Trade associations hit out at government’s technical notice

London, UK: The Road Haulage Association is warning plans in the government’s latest technical notice on commercial freight in the EU, published on September 24, are too little, too late.

The RHA is astounded by the suggestion that hauliers should consider alternative modes of transport to move goods between the UK and the EU in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “Goods are moved by road because of speed and efficiency – the UK relies on its incredibly efficient supply chain for consumers and businesses to get the things they need.”

“This would very quickly put the manufacturing sector under severe pressure and the hauliers they rely on out of business.”

The government has not said if it will require EU hauliers to apply for ECMT permits to enter the UK if UK operators are forced to obtain ECMT permits to enter the EU. The RHA says it’s unacceptable if permit requirements are not reciprocal.

The association is also very concerned that there’s no mention of plans for freight movements between the UK and the Irish Republic. Burnett said: “It’s essential that if there’s a “no deal” it is accompanied with the already agreed implementation period to give businesses a chance to avoid chaos in the supply chain.”

He called on the EU to recognise that striking a deal on Brexit is in the best interests of everyone – whether in the UK or EU.

The Freight Transport Association is also deeply concerned by the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations and the rhetoric used on both sides in the past few days. It is urging the UK and EU-27 leaders, including the European Commission, to prioritise urgent and co-ordinated mitigation measures, focused on trading areas which will not be able to function without agreements, like air freight and international haulage, to keep trade flowing freely after the UK leaves the EU.

Pauline Bastidon, head of European Policy at FTA, said: “With only six months left until Brexit, it is fair to say that the negotiations have not progressed as far as we would have hoped.  With so much political posturing playing out in the media, it is easy to forget that there are deeply integrated supply chains and jobs at risk if things go wrong.

“In the event of No Deal – a scenario identified as a serious possibility by both sides – new agreements would be needed to allow trucks, planes and trains to cross the borders with the EU, keep goods flowing and shops and factories supplied.

“Restrictions facing aviation in the event of a No Deal are well documented, but we need to add equally worrying restrictions to international haulage to the mix.  Vehicles travelling to and from Europe, regardless of where transport companies are registered, will need to have the right to access both the UK and EU haulage markets, if only to transport goods cross-border.  In other words, in the absence of a liberalised arrangement with continued recognition of operator licensing on both sides of the border, permits would be needed.

“The only system readily available now would only cover 2-5% of the industry’s needs:  the 2019 quota for the UK is restricted to 1,224 annual permits, which would have to be carried on a moving vehicle at all times, with similar numbers available the other European countries. That number pales into insignificance when you consider that up to 16,000 vehicle movements take place across the Dover Straits every day.  Without a significant improvement in the planned number of accepted permits for HGVs travelling across the border, and with equally drastic, if not bigger, restrictions facing air and rail freight in a No Deal scenario, the options for the logistics sector will be severely limited.

“Our plea is for both sides to start working on contingency plans and mitigating measures for transport as an urgent priority, so that businesses can rely on a co-ordinated plan and legal certainties, even in the event of a No Deal outcome.”

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