Brexit has been a turbulent journey, and as the weeks pass, the government’s decisions are still lacking clarity. This has ultimately created uncertainty for the transport and logistics sector, especially in terms of trade agreements and safety. Suitably, road freight is now left with the question of which direction road haulage and trucking will be driven down. The Government has recently claimed to be ‘making preparations to allow hauliers and other businesses to continue to transport goods between the UK and the EU’, should we be leaving without a withdrawal agreement.
On February 5th 2019 Jesse Norman, MP on behalf of the Department for Transport and Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency, published a letter from the government confirming how the government will be focusing on road haulage, should Britain be leaving the EU under a no deal circumstance. The online letter discusses the appropriate measures that may have to be enforced to ensure that foreign products can continue to be imported and UK products exported as usual. According to the Government, over 80% of haulage between the UK and continental Europe is transported by EU hauliers, so it is vital that the government make efforts to ‘continue to license UK hauliers to the same high safety, environmental and operating standards as at present.’
It is important to ensure that the UK’s supply chains are protected. The UK needs to be sure that foreign products can be imported and UK products exported as usual. Our approach of offering access at this stage aims both to provide the reassurance needed for international freight flows to continue, and also to help ensure reciprocal arrangements for UK hauliers. On its side, the European Commission has proposed legislation that would allow UK hauliers basic rights to conduct operations to, from and through the EU for a limited period of nine months after exit, if there is no deal. The Commission’s proposal will need to be agreed by the Council and European Parliament, and is being considered by both institutions urgently. This proposal is predicated on the UK’s granting equivalent access for EU hauliers to the UK, and the legislation laid before the House today provides for that access. Indeed, it is a more liberal offer, and we are discussing with the Commission whether there is scope for them to extend the EU’s offer so as to match ours.
In a more recent online statement from parliament, from 28 March 2019, lorry and truck drivers from the UK will need additional documentation to drive in the EU and EEA, which includes registering certain trailers with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA) and carrying a trailer registration certificate. Furthermore, should the UK leave the EU without a deal, there is a chance that UK lorry and truck drivers will also need an international driving permit (IDP) when driving in the EU and EEA.
Norman concludes, Overall, we continue to believe that reciprocal market access will be secured for UK hauliers. While continuing to plan for all eventualities, we also believe that it is right to underline the fact that the UK is taking a positive and pragmatic approach.
Rachel Jefferies, Editor, FORWARDER magazine