FTA, which speaks for the UK logistics industry, has welcomed Thursday’s (24 October 2019) news that the EU has approved the extension of two contingency measures by another seven months to maintain road haulage and air connectivity in the event of a No Deal Brexit. As Sarah Laouadi, FTA’s European Policy Manager, explains, the agreements will bring some measure of certainty to the association’s members that move goods and services to and from the European Union:
“The extension of the No Deal contingency access is welcome news for logistics companies currently preparing for Brexit, and is something which FTA has been lobbying for on behalf of its members. Both agreements will allow some degree of continuity, but it is clear that permanent solutions should be reached to enable businesses to plan efficiently for long-term business stability and avoid yet another cliff edge.”
Under Thursday’s agreements, the road haulage contingency measure, which was due to expire on 31 December 2019, will be valid until the end of July 2020, while the aviation access contingency will be extended from March 2020 to 24 October 2020. But, as Ms Laouadi continues, there are still pitfalls to the arrangements.
“While Thursday’s announcements will provide some breathing space to logistics companies that have been concerned about a potential No Deal departure from the EU, they come with restrictions that will increase the cost of transport, create unnecessary red tape and could simply fail those specialised haulage companies that serve a particularly dense network of customers and multiple sites in Europe.
“The news that UK hauliers will be allowed to carry out most journeys without the limited ECMT permits is a relief to the majority of hauliers, since the permits were not designed to cope with the quantity of traffic which flows to and from the EU on a daily basis. However, a small number of operations will not be covered by the contingency, and the flexibility which UK businesses currently enjoy will be eroded gradually if a deal is not reached between the UK and EU. And while the aviation agreement will bring short term relief for businesses which rely on air freight to keep their supply chains quick and efficient, a permanent arrangement should be prioritised to keep goods flying to and from the UK.
“As we have seen in recent months, the timescales involved in negotiations of this type can be lengthy, and business cannot be expected to face yet another cliff edge of uncertainty if long-term proposals cannot be confirmed. These measures go part of the way to reassuring our members, but we urge the UK and EU negotiating teams to prioritise the conclusion of long-terms solutions to ensure that Britain keeps trading effectively with the EU after Brexit, whatever form it may ultimately take.”