Hauliers across the UK will be returning to work today (11 February 2019) to discover whether they have been lucky in the “International Lottery” for one of less than 1,000 available haulage permits that will be required for them to send trucks to the Continent and Ireland in the event of a No Deal Brexit. Some hauliers received notification over the weekend, at about the time the results for the National Lottery were being announced!
With the UK scheduled to leave the EU single market on March 29 and the hoped-for Transition Period bogged down in Parliamentary no-man’s land, the Department for Transport has begun allocating the limited number of permits available to selected international road transport operators. In the absence of an alternative agreement, these permits would replace the “Community Licence” that currently gives unlimited access to all EU countries for UK operators. Official figures indicate that more than 11,000 HGV operators applied for a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit, yet less than 1,000 were successful in their application.
As Pauline Bastidon, Head of Global & European Policy at FTA, which speaks for the logistics industry, comments, the discrepancy between the number of applications received and permits available is stark evidence of why a No Deal Brexit would be disastrous for the UK’s logistics industry:
“In the event of a No Deal Brexit, the only tool currently available to UK hauliers to access the European market is ECMT permits. The fact that permits would be available to less than 9% of UK operators means that more than 90% of UK operators will be left in the cold. As we have been warning for some time, the number of permits available under international rules would be totally insufficient to keep Britain trading effectively and shows just how vital it is that a deal is reached with our European counterparts.”
Only those operators that receive permits will be able to send their trucks abroad after March 29 unless other arrangements – such as the draft EU contingency measures for road haulage – are agreed before then. Even then, EU proposals would not offer the same coverage as existing arrangements and would cease to apply at the end of the year, in the best case scenario.
Official figures show that applications for over 11,000 permits were received by the Department for Transport from just under 2000 truck operators. The number of annual permits available is 984, with a further 2,832 available that expire after one month and these will start to be allocated shortly.
“This will be a difficult week for many FTA members and businesses across Britain involved in running trucks to the Continent from the UK and to Ireland from Great Britain. FTA has been warning for months that, in the event of a No Deal Brexit, the number of permits available would not be enough to meet demand. The next few days will show just how many businesses will be unable to offer a viable service because they have been unsuccessful or have received too few permits for their current levels of business.”
The Department for Transport last week announced its intention to allow foreign registered vehicles into the UK without a permit, in the event of a No Deal Brexit. This is intended to ensure trucks carrying essential imports can continue to reach their British destinations. FTA supports this action but it will come as little comfort to the British international road transport operators facing financial ruin as a result of a failure to secure the permits they need to enter the EU. A proposal by the European Union offering more limited concessions and covering only the period until end of 2019 still awaits decisions to be made in Brussels by the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
“We are beginning to see the full practical and financial impact of what a No Deal Brexit would mean for the logistics industry,” commented Ms Bastidon. “Politicians must be accountable for the damage their failure to provide for an orderly Brexit will do to hundreds of British businesses. This is the evidence, if any more is needed, that a No Deal Brexit is no option for logistics.”
Efficient logistics is vital to keep Britain trading, directly having an impact on more than seven million people employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc.?A champion and challenger, FTA speaks to Government with one voice on behalf of the whole sector, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers.
For more information please visit www.fta.co.uk