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FTA frustrated at Brexit lack of progress

[ October 19, 2018   //   ]

The Freight Transport Association (FTA) said it was frustrated by the lack of progress in Brexit negotiations, following the failure of the latest summit talks to achieve anything concrete in mid-October.

Head of European policy, Pauline Bastidon, commented: “With March 2019 fast approaching, it’s frustrating negotiators on both sides have still not reached an agreement and seem content to once again kick the can down the road. We are now being told that decisions could be postponed to the December EU summit.”

The “massive decisions” which need to be made cannot be left to the last minute, she said: “Given the scale of adaptions required in the event of a No Deal exit, an outcome which cannot be excluded at this stage, we are quickly reaching the point of no return and industry decisions cannot be delayed any longer.”

With less than six months left until Brexit, progress has been extremely limited with even the transition period not a certainty at this stage, FTA complained. This had left the logistics sector in limbo, faced with the choice of investing in contingency plans that might not be needed if an agreement is reached, or taking no action and risking being unprepared for a No Deal exit.

FTA advises all companies to begin preparing for the worst-case scenario and calls upon the Government to give clear directions to industry, building on the no deal notices and focusing on the points of greater concerns to the industry, from detailed information required to prepare for possible customs formalities to post-Brexit immigration rules. Contradictory signals are unhelpful and risk giving industry a false sense of security.

Pauline Bastidon continues: “Given the increased likelihood of No Deal, FTA urges the European Commission and UK Government to better coordinate Brexit preparedness efforts. We’re seeing too many uncoordinated actions by member states in isolation – plans based on assumptions rather than proper dialogue or a clear strategy. Authorities need to be allowed to exchange information on the expected location of controls, traffic management and other measures taken to mitigate the impact of border delays in order to minimise disruptions on the flow of goods.”

“The European Commission should take the lead in identifying areas where coordinated ‘emergency’ agreements will be a must if the two sides fail to reach a deal. This is especially salient in transport – the logistics industry needs the legal certainty that trucks, planes and trains will be able to circulate without market access restrictions even in the event of a No Deal exit. Unilateral measures – such as those being contemplated in France – are not good enough and fail to reassure our members. Simply saying that alternative forms of transport should be used stems from a fundamental lack of understanding of supply chains and production constraints and does not reflect the fact that massive shifts require huge investment in extra ferry capacity, space and new infrastructure at ports, which are all measures requiring ample time.”

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