Cuxhaven prepares for Brexit

Cuxhaven companies and their customers discuss solution strategies with representatives from government and administration

(f.l.t.r.) Kai-Uwe Bielefeld, district administrator of the district of Cuxhaven, Dr. Ulrich Getsch, Lord Mayor of Cuxhaven, Sir Sebastian Wood, British Ambassador to Germany, Rachel King, EU & Economic Counsellor at the British Embassy, Hans-Peter Zint, Chairman of the Cuxhaven Port Association, and David McAllister, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Lower Saxony. Picture source: Thomas Sassen/Cuxhavener Nachrichten.Berlin/Cuxhaven, 16 October 2018 - As a major port for traffic to the United Kingdom (UK) as well as for the international fishing industry, Cuxhaven is expected to be strongly affected by the UK's withdrawal from the European Union. For this reason, the Cuxhaven Port Association (Hafenwirtschaftsgemeinschaft Cuxhaven) hosted a parliamentary evening in Berlin on Monday, 15 October 2018. The aim was to intensify preparations for the changes that will take place on 29 March 2019, together with representatives from government, administration and the business community.

According to the British government, around 90 percent of the withdrawal agreement from the European Union have been finalised, roughly half a year before the official date. Great Britain is the fifth most important trading partner for the German economy, so imports and exports would be considerably impaired by the introduction of customs clearance procedures. At the port of Cuxhaven, which handles more than six departures a week to English ports, around 70 to 80 percent of traffic would be affected by these changes.

Like many companies and organisations, the Cuxhaven business community has already been dealing with the possible effects of the Brexit in the long term. Among other things, the processes required for customs clearance were developed in consultation with shipping companies, terminal operators, freight forwarders, shippers and customs. The employees of the companies are prepared for new requirements through training and special qualifications. New IT systems for terminal management and electronic interfaces to customs systems are also being introduced.

Challenges for local companies

At CuxDay, HWG-Chairman Hans-Peter Zint confirmed that, like many German companies, the port industry in Cuxhaven is preparing for a "chaotic Brexit". "We are currently assuming the worst case scenario and preparing our processes and transports for the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU customs union and the internal market without an agreement. Nevertheless, we want to do everything we can to ensure that this does not happen. The United Kingdom is and will remain an important trading partner for Cuxhaven. Today we have achieved our goal of creating an understanding of Cuxhaven's special situation among politicians and the administration in order to develop common solutions. Cuxhaven will be Brexit-ready on 29 March 2019 and will therefore continue to be a reliable partner for fast supply chains to and from England."

In his speech to around 100 guests, Kell Robdrup, Senior Vice President of the shipping company DFDS A/S, also adressed the company's preparations: "In order to be ready for the challenges that Brexit will pose to DFDS and our customers, DFDS is striving to ensure a smooth transition to new customs and government requirements for trade and immigration from 29 March 2019. These include new business offerings such as customs clearance itself, storage of cargo and the provision of warehouses for industrial customers in order to build stock to ensure smooth delivery to their customers. DFDS is in the process of building the expertise and finding the space needed for this at our terminals."

On the customer side, Stephan Freismuth, Customs Manager at BMW Group, addressed the urgency of the required processes: "For the BMW Group, the United Kingdom is not only our fourth-largest sales market, but the vehicles and vehicle parts we produce there are also predominantly exported to the continent. Therefore we believe the timely adaptation of customs and logistics processes is essential if business continuity between the UK and the EU is to be maintained."

EU summit to bring clarity

The speakers included representatives of the business community as well as representatives of the ministries. Dr. Rolf Bösinger, State Secretary in the Federal Ministry of Finance, gave an insight into the preparations of the Federal Government: "The customs administration will not take on any new tasks post-Brexit, but the scope of familiar tasks will increase. For this reason, the proper performance of tasks will be expanded in line with demand, especially at the major international seaports and airports, such as Cuxhaven, particularly in the area of customs clearance. The draft budget for 2019 provides for a considerable number of additional posts for customs." He also called on all affected companies to make use of existing information services such as and to review the necessary preparatory measures.

British Ambassador Sir Sebastian Wood welcomed the guests to the event: “We have a crucial week ahead of us with the October European Council just a few days away. The time has come for compromise –all sides must now find the necessary political will to design a new relationship which does justice to our uniquely close ties and to our shared European values. The UK and Europe are bound by centuries of shared history which stretch far beyond the existence of the EU. We stand for the same values and interests in global affairs. Our security is inextricably linked, as is our prosperity. The day the UK leaves the EU it will become a trading partner to the EU on the scale of the US and China.”

David McAllister, Chairman of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the European Parliament and former Prime Minister of Lower Saxony, emphasised the importance of the agreement for the port location: "Cuxhaven will be particularly affected by Brexit as a port and fishing location. Everything must be done to ensure that the access rights and fishing quotas of the German fishing industry are maintained. Only if an agreement is reached now will there be a 21-month transitional period during which both sides can negotiate a future trade agreement and cooperation on fisheries policy. The summit meeting of EU leaders in Brussels this week will be crucial. There must be clear progress. Time is of the essence!"

On 17 and 18 October, the leaders of the 27 EU member states will meet in Brussels to discuss the current state of negotiations with the UK and the deepening of Economic and Monetary Union (EMU).


About HWG

The Cuxhaven Port Association (HWG) represents the interests of Cuxhaven’s maritime companies, institutions and private individuals united by the common goal of marketing and further developing the port at the mouth of the river Elbe. The HWG also promotes Cuxhaven’s standing as the most important port site for offshore wind energy in Germany. Current news about the HWG can be found on the Homepage, on LinkedIn and Twitter.


Press contact details for Hafenwirtschaftsgemeinschaft Cuxhaven e.V.
Gwendolyn Dünner
Medienbüro am Reichstag GmbH
Im Haus der Bundespressekonferenz
Reinhardtstr. 55
10117 Berlin
Phone +49 (30) 20 61 41 30 41
Fax +49 (30)-30 87 29 95
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