The news that the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker says “sufficient progress” has been made in the Brexit negotiations to move on to phase 2 (transition & trade) is encouraging, says the Freight Transport Association (FTA). But, the organisation adds, there is an urgent need to now translate this good political will into action and to reach a swift agreement on a transitional deal providing clarity and certainty to businesses. This is needed to ensure that business can continue to operate efficiently and trade to flow freely to and from the UK.
“Today’s announcement is the first block in the wall,” says Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at FTA, “but there is still much work to be done and clarification required on the key issues affecting trade and logistics and on the timelines that businesses will have to work to. As a first step, today’s recommendation by the European Commission needs to be validated by EU-27 leaders at the December European Council next week. Negotiators will then be able to agree the details of a transitional agreement, which is now an urgent priority to give business the assurance needed to continue to operate efficiently.
“There are still many complex issues that will need to be solved when discussions on the future relationship start, to ensure that goods can continue to flow across borders, not least for transport, trade and customs. The urgency is now to provide clarity to businesses, and that’s why a transition & implementation phase is so crucial. Businesses should only have to adapt to one set of changes and should be given enough time to do so, once new arrangements and rules become clear. Two years is a very short time: it is imperative that business is given sufficient notice to adopt new practices and systems, and ensure that they are correctly staffed to keep Britain trading.”
The Freight Transport Association is the UK’s largest and most influential membership association in the freight and logistics sector, with more than 16,000 members operating over 220,000 goods vehicles – half the UK’s fleet. Established in 1889, FTA’s members move goods by road, rail, sea and air, consign over 90 per cent of the UK freight moved by rail and 70 per cent of the nation’s sea and air freight.