Following two years of intense lobbying on the issue by the association, FTA has welcomed today’s (4 March 2019) provisional agreement between the European Parliament and Member States to allow UK hauliers market access without ECMT permits for certain transport operations in the event of a No Deal departure from the EU.
However, the decision – which still needs to be formally confirmed – still leaves UK hauliers with much to consider, as Sarah Laouadi, FTA’s European policy manager explains: “The lack of ECMT permits under a No Deal Brexit would severely limit market access for thousands of UK businesses, and is something we have worked tirelessly to address on behalf of our members. Today’s announcement will give some respite concerned about the future of their businesses, but is far from offering frictionless operating conditions and should still be viewed in light of the threat posed to the UK’s trading relationships by a No Deal departure from the EU.
“The offer is only valid for nine months from Brexit date, could be revoked unilaterally by the EU without any appeal mechanism, and would not provide the same levels of access as UK hauliers currently enjoy. Shippers have come to rely on fully flexible logistics operators, who can move goods as and when necessary, but this would not be possible under the contingency approved today. For instance, cabotage rights in the EU would be limited significantly, and progressively reduced during the nine month period under review, with no cabotage rights at all in the final two months of the contingency period. This would have a significant impact on those businesses trading in Europe as they return to the UK.”
Although it provides a much needed, albeit limited, safety net, today’s announcement is in no way making No Deal any more palatable to the logistics industry, as Ms Laouadi concludes: “Logistics businesses are still left wondering about future arrangements on customs and regulatory requirements and border delays, key areas of concern which FTA has been lobbying on since Article 50 was triggered. While Mrs May’s offer of a Parliamentary vote to take No Deal off the table is welcome, businesses cannot trade on ‘what if’s?’ and ‘maybe’s’ – there is still much confirmation needed for modes of transport other than road and it is vital that clarification on future trading terms is provided if Britain is to keep trading efficiently after leaving the EU.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.