Less than 1,000 hauliers have been able to “win” a haulage pass to enable them to carry on sending trucks out of the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
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.
Pauline Bastidon, head of Global and European Policy at FTA, said: “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 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.
The Department for Transport 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.