Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland agree on borderless terms post-Brexit

Published: 08 November 2018

Northern Ireland/Republic of Ireland agree on borderless terms post-Brexit
Northern Ireland’s hauliers will maintain freedom of movement to the Republic of Ireland, even if a no-deal Brexit takes place according to the FTA, who applauded the agreed decision. However, they also expressed their concerns for other British operators, stating that other British operators must be addressed considering whether they can still operate without the requirements for additional permits in the Republic of Ireland.

Trade within the UK could face a huge impact if ECMT permits are required to operate between borders. This would have an impact on businesses within England, Scotland and Wales as well as those who would wish to trade to any one of these countries from the Republic of Ireland.

FTA were at first told that Northern Ireland would only be able to gain an estimate of 60 permits for international trade, which would be a large concern for the country’s trade. Northern Ireland Policy Manager: Seamus Leheny explained that this would have very negative implications on an international scale: “When you consider more than 4,000 goods vehicles cross the border between NI and ROI daily, the allowance of 60 vehicle permits per year would have inoperably damaged the transport industry and in turn, the businesses who rely on these imported goods and services to operate.

“Thankfully, the NI Department for Infrastructure has confirmed all operators with a NI licence will not be required to obtain an ECMT permit to travel to ROI. While FTA welcome this special status for businesses in Northern Ireland – it will help maintain vital cross border, all-island supply chains in the event of a no-deal Brexit – the ideal scenario would be a UK-wide application.”

Progress made within Ireland is a good sign for other countries of the UK, as Mr Leheny elaborated: 
“Those with a British operator’s license will have to apply for an ECMT permit if they plan to drive in the Republic of Ireland, or elsewhere in the EU, from 29 March 2019. British operators will only have access to 1,224 permits per year, which is painfully short of the required total. Without frictionless movement between the UK and EU-27 countries, we can expect to see severe delays which will threaten our complex supply chain. It’s promising to see such progress has made been in NI in regard to vehicle permits, but this must be applied across the UK to prevent the logistics industry, and in turn, the wider UK economy grinding to a halt.”
Many hauliers are hopeful that the negotiations made between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland are a sign of what is to come for Wales, Scotland and England.
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