With Brexit negotiations drawing to an apparent end, what impact will a No Deal exit from the European Union have on the various EU regulations and directives that govern the road transport industry? Will EU Drivers’ Hours still apply? How will this affect competition in Europe? Will the UK fall under the European Agreement Concerning the Work of Crews of Vehicles Engaged in International Road Transport (AETR) rules which govern some non-EU countries?
Ever since the UK voted to leave the EU in June 2016, all these questions, and more, have largely remained unanswered. However, following a meeting in Brussels, Guy Reynolds, Aquarius IT’s Director, confirmed that the European Commission have responded with a new contingency plan in the event of a No Deal Brexit.
Until now, according to Reynolds, there has been no clear remit and no clear idea of what the ramifications of a No Deal might have. He said that this, coupled with the associated economic uncertainty that the lengthy Brexit negotiations have created, had “naturally left many operators on edge”.
Reynolds confirmed that the European Commission had published a contingency document on 19 March, which included drawing up a temporary regulation specifically with a No Deal Brexit in mind. The premise is to clarify what rules UK operators are to work under, should the UK crash out of the EU in the coming days.
Reynolds said: “This ‘safety net’ will come into effect at the exact date and time that pre-existing EU treaties cease to apply, ensuring no break in continuity within areas such as Drivers’ Hours, Working Time, cabotage (which has seen only a minor change), application of weight and speed limits, as well as driver training requirements.
“Furthermore, the plan has been designed to ensure fair competition for UK hauliers operating in the EU and it is expected that the UK government will draw up similar plans; at least for the period during which the ‘temporary’ regulation applies.
“It also allows for the introduction of the new smart tachograph to proceed as planned, with the new tachograph units due to be fitted on all brand new vehicle registered after 15 June,” he added.
The European Commission’s contingency document will come into force in the event of a No Deal Brexit, potentially at 11pm 12 April. In the event of No Deal happening, the document will expire on 31 December 2019 when it is hoped that the UK will have come to some specific arrangements with the EU. If such arrangements are not agreed by the end of the year, the situation, at this time, remains unclear.
“In the meantime, if the UK leaves the EU with an agreed deal in place, the situation, whilst not without its challenges, will be more straightforward,” Reynolds said. “There are too many other scenario’s and variables beyond simply clarifying the position of No Deal, but at least this gives consistency in the coming months, if there is No Deal”.
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