What happens to haulage if Britain leaves the EU?

Published: 23 March 2016

What happens to haulage if Britain leaves the EU?
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The question on everyone in the haulage industry’s lips at the moment is will the economy collapse if we exit the EU? 
 
Whilst campaign groups are feeding both the information that there will be an economic golden age or dark age if the UK decides to either leave or stay in the EU. It seems more and more likely that the truth meets in the middle, and that is if anything changes in the economy at all.
 
On behalf of Woodford Investment Management, a report by Capital Economics stated “Although the impact of Brexit (Britain’s exit from the EU) on the British economy is uncertain, we doubt that Britains’s long-term economic outlook hinges on it.”
 
Open Europe has produced a range success (based on deregulation) of trade deals and so on – that stretches from a 2.2% GDP drop if the UK exits to 1.6% GDP jump by 2030. The point being it seems unlikely there will be anything more than a marginal effect at all. 
 
One of the positives that hauliers see from leaving the EU is the possibility of the much loathed Driver CPC and the other “red tape” that comes with it being scrapped. But senior solicitor at DWF, Joanne Witheford sees it differently “Our transport regime is far more onerous than any other European country”
 
Senior DWF Solicitor Joanne Witheford Returnloads
Senior DWF Solicitor Joanne Witheford
 
“We are getting it right and it’s unfortunate other European countries aren’t as rigorous. But I really don’t believe that, if we left the EU, We would take a step back and throw out all that legislation,”
 
Woodfines Solicitors partner, Tim Ridyard is of a similar mind by saying “EC Regulation 1079/2009 underpins the Standard O-Licence, but would THE UK abandon it’s fundamentals and repeal the UK legislation, e.g. shedding the need for formally qualified transport managers? There would surely be a continuation of a pretty similar model”.
 
The deeper you look into whether it would be more beneficial to leave or stay in the EU for the haulage industry seems to raise more and more questions, like can HGV Road User Levy be raised or can the number of foreign registered  vehicles coming to the UK be reduced? 
 
The government was not allowed to single out foreign registered for payment of the levy under European Law, that is why UK registered hauliers effectively pay it too, but their annual vehicle exercise duty is offset to cancel it out. It also meant that the maximum the government could charge was £1,000 a year or £10 a day, so it is something that could perhaps be increased.
 
Industry giants Fagan & Whalley recently admitted a combination of the driver shortage and higher paid temporary staff had hurt their last annual profit. With the Department for transport ruling out any future government backed driver training fund recently, control of migration, while popular with voters, would mean restrictions to say the least. This could also lead to wage inflation within the HGV driver sector. Capital Economics points out that although it is very unlikely, if the UK does leave the EU, it may need to maintain free movement of labour in exchange for access to the common market.
 
The Cabinet Office has warned that leaving the EU would be no simple task, other than Greenland, no other country has left before. It would be “bringing a period of uncertainty“ that could see the UK enter a likely protracted period of negotiation. A separate analysis by Open Europe on how long it takes to strike trade deals found the quickest 4 years, while the Swiss deal took a decade.
 
The Cabinet Office report also stated that “A vote to leave the EU would be the start, not the end, of a process”.
 
SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon
SNP Leader Nicola Sturgeon
 
In regards to what would happen to the UK if it was to leave the EU, Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon stated that she would call for a referendum on Scotland leaving the UK, if the UK did eventually leave the EU.
 
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