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The Home Straight: Haulage Industry Preparing for Looming Brexit

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Whatever our view on Brexit, and whatever we originally voted for, we can’t deny that the outcome will affect everyone in the UK - and hauliers are no exception. Once Brexit is initiated, many lorry drivers may be barred from crossing into the EU if they do not have the required permit that will come into play as soon as Brexit occurs.

While many have applied for the European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit, fewer than 10% have received one - and this is where the issues become serious.

Permit Issues

While the Department of Transport is reportedly making more permits available, the number predicted still falls well short of that required, leaving many haulage workers and companies in the industry facing huge problems with regards to their operations.

To get a permit, you have to bid for it, and if you fail in your bid you have to wait until the next allocation. Many people have criticised this system, likening it to a haulage industry lottery. Hauliers have been left at a loss and many are extremely worried about how they are going to manage their exports without access to the EU.

What Can be Done?

With supply chains at risk, a contingency plan and practical measures need to be put in place. The establishment of a full transition period would help, so that everyone has the chance to adapt to the changes and get the correct paperwork in place. Some, including a spokesman for the Department for Transport, believe that the government will secure a relationship with the EU that will maintain the free access that hauliers currently enjoy. This would negate the need for a permit, but with all the uncertainty, every eventuality must be planned for.

The Plan for a No Deal Brexit

It is vital that the transport of goods continues between the UK and Europe, even in the event of a ‘No Deal Brexit’, which is why the government has established draft legislation. Called the UK Licence for the Community, the amendments in this legislation will guarantee the rights of both EU and British hauliers to continue their work.

This is currently, however, just a draft and will only become active if the EU guarantees that people working for UK haulage companies have the same rights as that of their EU counterparts. If not, and no agreement is reached, then hauliers from the UK will be permitted to continue using the existing Community Licence until December 2019. After that they will have to rely on the limited ECMT permits offered, as the UK will no longer be a member state.

Everyone has their fingers crossed that a solution with regards the UK’s exit from the EU is accomplished and the UK Licence for the Community can come into play without a hitch. This will allow haulage workers to continue their work and do the important job of keeping the exports and imports flowing.
About author: Desiree Michels

Norman Dulwich is a Correspondent for Haulage Exchange, the leading online trade network for the road transport industry. Connecting logistics professionals across the UK and Europe through their website, Haulage Exchange provides services for matching haulage work with available drivers, and is now the fastest growing Freight Exchange company in the UK.

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