Across the UK and Europe, it’s a safe bet that whenever Brexit is discussed any companies linked to either end of the situation have a pessimistic attitude towards what Brexit could mean for the future of trade between Europe and the UK.
Hauliers, freight and shipping firms feel there is natural mistrust in regards to the competence of the Government and political class’ approach when it comes to Brexit. Some of the biggest lobby groups who represent the British freight industry are finally expressing optimism, but this isn’t without a sense of caution that Britain isn’t out of the deep waters yet but as currency and trade get back on track the government steps closer and closer to our plans for departure from the EU and Robert Keen, Director General of the British International Freight Association (BIFA) stated:
“Our members, which form the bulk [of the] UK logistics sector will be breathing a sigh of relief that the UK and European Commission have reached agreement on phase 1 issues. There is still plenty of hard work to do, but this does appear to mean that discussions on transitional arrangements and our future trading relationship with the EU can now commence. The focus for the UK Government must now be on agreeing a transition deal, and explaining to business and the country as a whole what kind of trading relationship it is looking for in the long-term.
“The most pressing concern for our members has been the matter of the future trading relationship between the UK and the EU, especially Customs procedures post-Brexit. The Phase 2 negotiations need to remove the uncertainty that is currently faced by a large number of traders over the matter of future Customs declarations once the UK leaves the European Union (EU).
“We are actively involved with HMRC and have always recommended that there needs to be wider engagement with all who are engaged in processing international trade to give them as much time as possible to prepare and to allay fears. We will be continuing with our lobbying efforts to make sure that our members and the trading companies that they serve get better and more regular information about the likely Customs implications of Brexit.
“As the details of any trade deal emerge, BIFA will continue to work closely with HMRC to help ensure a successful delivery of systems that will meet the needs of our members who, at the end of the day, are responsible for facilitating a considerable proportion of the UK’s visible trade.”
Many British hauliers are relieved that there are no plans for a ‘hard border’ which would make journeys in and out of the country much more difficult when completing international deliveries. This would have a major impact on travel to regions such as the Republic and Northern Ireland which will no longer have damaged relations due to ‘hard border’ scares.
RHA Chief Exec Richard Burnett had his own say on the matter:
“We hope that the successful outcome of these particular border issues can be reflected in negotiations over cross-border traffic between other EU member states. However, our big concern is that we can strike a deal for free-flowing lorry traffic across the Channel.”
According to European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, “sufficient progress” has been made in regards to Brexit negotiations which are now on to phase 2 regarding transition and trade. This was according to the FTA’s report, the organisation also added that there is an urgent need from the Commission to translate their political courtesy to action which will lead to a solution for the UK as we prepare to depart the EU. Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at the FTA made their point clear, stating:
“Today’s announcement is the first block in the wall but there is still much work to be done and clarification required on the key issues affecting trade and logistics and on the timelines that businesses will have to work to. As a first step, today’s recommendation by the European Commission needs to be validated by EU-27 leaders at the December European Council next week. Negotiators will then be able to agree the details of a transitional agreement, which is now an urgent priority to give business the assurance needed to continue to operate efficiently.
“There are still many complex issues that will need to be solved when discussions on the future relationship start, to ensure that goods can continue to flow across borders, not least for transport, trade and customs. The urgency is now to provide clarity to businesses, and that’s why a transition & implementation phase is so crucial. Businesses should only have to adapt to one set of changes and should be given enough time to do so, once new arrangements and rules become clear. Two years is a very short time: it is imperative that business is given sufficient notice to adopt new practices and systems, and ensure that they are correctly staffed to keep Britain trading.”
Many of the Government have shared the opinion that “No deal is better than a bad deal” and many have criticised Theresa May’s approach when planning the UK’s departure from the European Union. Many feel she is unfit to oversee plans because she has been unable to keep many pledges from her campaign in 2016. The UK is expected to depart the EU Friday 29th March 2019 if a full deal is reached and finally agreed to between the UK and the European Commission.