Eight urgent priorities
FTA has compiled a list of eight urgent priorities, the bare minimum transport operators need to ensure Britain keeps trading after Brexit:
1. Urgent confirmation of the terms and length of the transition/implementation period: while a political agreement was reached at the end of March on a transition/implementation phase until 2021, EU negotiators have repeated since that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’, and that the existence of a transition was contingent on an agreement on the Irish border. Industry needs certainty and advanced notice, to focus its preparedness efforts on areas where they are most needed, and with a clear time frame in mind.
2. Frictionless trading arrangements with the EU during the transition/implementation period in line with the political agreement reached in March 2018.
3. Continued access to benefits of EU agreements during the transition/implementation period: UK industry needs to have the certainty that it will benefit from EU agreements with third countries (from trade agreements to land transport agreements and agreements providing trade facilitations) during the transition period.
4. Urgent clarification regarding the UK’s future customs classification system, ‘most favoured nations’ duty rates and VAT arrangements so that companies may start planning for Brexit in an efficient way; especially the estimated 185,000 UK companies that have no international trade experience.
5. Conformity, sanitary and phytosanitary checks should take place away from the borders (perhaps at the point of production or as part of ongoing market surveillance). EU law sets a minimum percentage of sanitary and phytosanitary checks that need to take place at the border – some of which are set at 100 per cent rates. Alternative solutions need to be found urgently.
6. Continued unrestricted numbers of vehicles able to cross the UK-EU borders: market access arrangements should be preserved after the end of the transition/implementation period, to protect the existence of the ro-ro model on which just-in-time supply chains rely.
7. Continued recognition of vocational driving licences and qualifications (ie transport and driver CPC): the transport sector needs to secure continued recognition of driving licences and qualifications after Brexit.
8. Continued access to EU logistics workers employed in the UK on a seasonal basis. The agreement reached in December 2017 covers EU citizens resident in the UK and frontier workers. However, logistics companies often use EU workers who are not necessarily classified as UK residents to deal with peak periods of demand and who might only live in the UK a few weeks or months per year. Industry needs to retain continued access to these workers.