Business, Freight News, Road

Brexit – the real work starts now

[ July 7, 2017   //   ]

Comment s by EU negotiator Michel Barnier in which he predicted that there would be full inspection of all loads from the UK entering Europe after Brexit should act as a wake-up call, said Freight Transport Association (FTA) deputy chief executive of the James Hookham.

Commenting ahead of a meeting between minister for Brexit David Davis and leading British businesses on 7 July to discuss the trading implications of Brexit, Mr Hookham said that Barnier’s comments had at least put logistics and trade issues back on the table that the practical solutions to keep Britain trading with the European Union after Brexit can now be discussed.

He added that two years counts as short-term planning for most companies and the meeting marked the starting point for serious development of new trading procedures and formalities 

Mr Hookham added that a “wait and see” approach will not work for the logistics industry while negotiations continue on other elements of the UK’s departure from the EU:

 “FTA members are very clear about what needs to be done to Keep Britain Trading: a ‘no deal’ walk-out by the UK Government, where full Customs checks are imposed literally overnight, is not an acceptable outcome,” said Hookham.

He added: “The workload is huge. We need an immediate start on building the new Customs systems for the 300 million additional declarations that will be required to be made, the learning programmes for the 180,000 businesses that will need to learn how to use them. We need to get equal treatment of British goods by the 27 other Customs administrations across Europe and new 21st century approaches to inspecting and checking loads, avoiding the need to check vehicles checks in our congested ports. Above all there must be no cliff-edge in arrangements while all this work is being undertaken. We need business as usual until the new arrangements are in place.”

Meanwhile in a video released on 6 July, the UK Chamber of Shipping warned that the EU is ignoring the risk of Brexit to European ports. It predicts that the return of border controls would lead to increased bureaucracy, “guaranteed” lorry gridlock and threats to the prosperity of both EU member states and the UK. It also says that the dangers to major EU ports has been understated.

Chamber chief executive, Guy Platten said: “The EU sells £240bn of goods to the UK each year, most of which travels through ports. So the negative impact of a so-called hard Brexit on ports such as Dover will be felt just as severely if not more so by European ports. I don’t think the EU has fully grasped this yet.”

He added: “Much of the attention on the impact of leaving the customs union has been on UK ports such as Dover.” However: “Major EU ports such as Calais, Zeebrugge and Dublin would find themselves equally as vulnerable.”