The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed a provisional agreement to allow UK hauliers market access without ECMT permits for certain transport operations in the event of a ‘no deal’ departure from the EU.
The lack of ECMT permits under a ‘no deal’ Brexit would severely limit market access for thousands of UK businesses, and is something that the FTA has worked to address on behalf of its members.
Yesterday’s announcement will give some respite concerned about the future of their businesses, but is far from offering frictionless operating conditions and should still be viewed in light of the threat posed to the UK’s trading relationships by a No Deal departure from the EU, says the FTA.
Sarah Laouadi, FTA’s European policy manager, explained: “The offer is only valid for nine months from Brexit date, could be revoked unilaterally by the EU without any appeal mechanism, and would not provide the same levels of access as UK hauliers currently enjoy.
“Shippers have come to rely on fully flexible logistics operators, who can move goods as and when necessary, but this would not be possible under the contingency approved today.
“For instance, cabotage rights in the EU would be limited significantly, and progressively reduced during the nine month period under review, with no cabotage rights at all in the final two months of the contingency period. This would have a significant impact on those businesses trading in Europe as they return to the UK.”
Although it provides a much needed, albeit limited, safety net, the announcement is in no way making ‘No Deal’ any more palatable to the logistics industry, stressed Laouadi.
She concluded: “Logistics businesses are still left wondering about future arrangements on customs and regulatory requirements and border delays, key areas of concern which FTA has been lobbying on since Article 50 was triggered.
“While Mrs May’s offer of a Parliamentary vote to take No Deal off the table is welcome, businesses cannot trade on ‘what if’s?’ and ‘maybe’s’ – there is still much confirmation needed for modes of transport other than road and it is vital that clarification on future trading terms is provided if Britain is to keep trading efficiently after leaving the EU.”