The European Union’s contingency plans for the event of a No Deal Brexit, released this week, do not alleviate the UK logistics industry’s concerns, according to the Freight Transport Association (FTA), the only business group representing the whole sector. The plans only provide limited facilitations, confirming that leaving the EU without an agreement in place will have serious consequences for logistics, and in turn, integrated supply chains and the EU & UK economies.
Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s head of European policy & Brexit, commented: “The EU’s very limited no-deal contingency plans will not allow trade to flow freely between the UK and EU, confirming expectations of border delays, supply chain disruptions, significant additional red tape for traders and operators alike, and restrictions to transport. While FTA is pleased to see the EU27 is taking steps to ramp up no-deal contingency planning, their proposals fall short of what would be necessary to allow our industry to keep the supply chain intact and trade moving.
“The proposals for aviation and road haulage, which FTA had relentlessly campaigned for in Brussels and other European capitals, are only temporary and could be revoked by the European Commission at any time. Member states are banned from negotiating more permanent agreements with the UK or going above and beyond the minimal rights granted in the European Commission’s proposal. Furthermore, the proposals need to be adopted by the European Council and the European Parliament and are therefore not something operators and traders could rely on at this stage – there is a risk they could be rejected by either institution.”
Bastidon continues: “Member states are simply told that they will have a duty to enforce the full customs and regulatory regime on day one of a no-deal Brexit. No consideration is given to a potential ‘light touch’ approach in the short term; considering the level of preparedness of infrastructure at the borders (on both sides), taking such an approach is likely to be a recipe for disaster.
“Furthermore, the scope of the proposals is very limited: only UK-EU and EU-UK haulage routes will be covered, and UK registered operators will only be able to perform intra-EU international deliveries if they are in possession of an ECMT permit – and the number of these to be allocated to UK hauliers would only cover a small fraction of the needs of the industry. Cabotage will be effectively prohibited, meaning that operators based in Northern Ireland would not be able to access the domestic Irish haulage market, and vice versa.”
Bastidon concludes: “Logistics is the beating heart of the economy, and one on which most businesses – including manufacturing plants, hospitals and shops – have come to rely on. The industry is ready to take action, but it needs clear directions and a supportive environment, with enough time to adapt and the proper infrastructure in place.”