On Tuesday, Theresa May revealed in her Brexit speech some of the key details which may affect freight transport in the UK after leaving the EU.
The single market is designed to make it easier for EU nations to trade with one another. It enables goods, workers and services to freely move within the EU without any tariffs. Currently, the UK is a full member of the the single market and its businesses (including haulage and ferry companies) benefit from this relationship.
Theresa May has confirmed that the UK cannot remain a member of the single market once it leaves the EU. A new free trade agreement will need to be made to ensure continued access to the single market. The Freight Transport Association has stated that they welcome Theresa May's commitment to 'tariff-free and frictionless trade' with the European Union and the possible agreements with other countries. They will however be investigating where possible 'friction points' in international trade could occur and work with the government to negotiate the best possible outcome for UK businesses’.
As mentioned in our previous Brexit article, it is also important that we can still deal efficiently with European ferry companies outside of the single market.
High on the list of priorities for freight companies is the customs union arrangement which ensures that tariffs are not imposed on each countries goods. We are currently part of the EU customs union.
The UK will leave the EU customs union but will negotiate a new agreement with the EU. This is very important for haulage companies as the introduction of customs tariffs could potentially be disasterous.
The plan is to either negotiate a completely new customs agreement, become an associate member of the existing customs union or remain part of some elements of it.
The government has stated that there will be restrictions to EU migration. Although no model has been confirmed for controlling the number of people who come to Britain from Europe, several options are available.
From an 'EU nationals who work as drivers' point of view, it is important that key workers can still be employed within the haulage and logistic sectors to benefit the UK economy. The FTA have stated that they will be seeking assurances that the government recognises and accommodates the essential needs of these sectors.
The triggering of Article 50, formally notifying the UK's intention to withdraw from the European Union, is due to commence at the end of March. We will have further Brexit updates as they happen.