With the UK and EU yet to reach an agreement on its trading relationship post-Brexit, the possibility of a no-deal withdrawal is becoming a real possibility.
The FTA, the only business group representing all of logistics, urges the UK and EU-27 leaders to seek an agreement urgently to ensure goods and services continue to move freely across borders post-Brexit. In the situation of a no-deal exit, the government’s recently released contingency white papers shed some light on what trading and operating conditions would look like.
And the implications for road transport are far-reaching, for travel both within the UK and further afield. Firstly, all UK drivers will need to acquire an international permit to drive on the continent.
But these permits may be difficult for some businesses to attain, as they will only be made available at approximately 2,500 UK Post Offices, out of a possible 11,500. It’s estimated up to seven million permits will need to be issued in 2019 to both commercial and private road users.
The permits will be available from 1 February 2019, leaving operators with just over one month to prepare. And while many businesses stay abreast of road transport law, there will be many others unaware of this development - education and awareness will be key to successful nationwide implementation.
While the FTA welcomed the publication of the no-deal contingency white papers - it provided some much overdue guidance for traders and logistics companies - the industry is yet to receive calcification on several other aspects of road transport. The UK logistics sector relies on fast and easy travel to the continent - free from red tape and bureaucracy - to deliver the £274bn-worth of goods and services it exports yearly.
Yet the government has still not provided clarification on how many freight vehicles will receive permits to cross the border. We know the UK will have access to 1,224 permits, but more than 10,000 freight vehicles pass through Dover Port on peak days alone, so a more realistic number must be agreed.
While the FTA welcomed the government’s announcement that it will pursue bilateral agreements on permits, this will still impose unwanted administrative burdens and costs that British hauliers do not need.
By James Hookham deputy chief executive, FTA