The details of what a non EU UK will look like is months and months away, possibly up to 2 years away! What we can look to is countries such as Norway, and see what a deal could look like and see how this would affect hauliers and couriers delivering goods.
The main negotiating point likely to have an impact to the transport industry will be access to the EEA. Access to this provides Norway with free movement of goods and services. This does provide opportunities to exporters from Norway to sell into Europe and V.V., but in some cases this does not remove the requirement for the lengthy export documentation process including customs clearance. There is a cost to prepare this documentation, but this is usually paid for by the consignee (person receiving the goods) or the consignor (person sending the goods) and not by the haulier or courier moving the goods. A critical corner stone of any UK – EU deal will be negotiating a free movement of goods and services with no documentation strings attached.
One major issue coming out of the Brexit discussions will be how the French government deals with border controls at Calais. The Dover Straits, the area of sea between Dover in the UK and Calais in France, where Eurotunnel, P&O Ferries and DFDS operate, accounts for approximately 70% of all imports and exports coming into and out of the UK. Currently the UK government and the French government have an agreement where the UK border is actually policed in Calais. So a vehicle entering into the UK from Calais route passes through UK customs whilst still in France. Unlike most other customs clearance, where you would pass through customs at the port of entry.
The local French politicians have talked about a Brexit result bringing an end to this agreement. The services of Eurotunnel, DFDS and P&O operating on the Dover Straits rely hugely on the speed of processing at Folkestone & Dover in the UK and Calais & Dunkerque in France. The UK authorities will no doubt be working very hard to keep the status quo and retain the customs facility in Calais.
Obviously the devil will be in the detail of an agreement between the UK and the EU, but the current deal Norway struck with the EU enables Norway citizens to gain access to state healthcare. Failure for the UK government to include this in a deal would mean UK hauliers and couriers would reply upon business travel insurance. This will likely lead to an increase in premiums.
The EU allows free movement of labour throughout Europe. Many UK businesses have employed drivers who are European residents, not from the UK. As the shortage of HGV / LGV drivers worsens in the UK, this has been a critical source of drivers. According to the RHA, the UK haulage industry has become too reliant on drivers from Eastern Europe. It is unclear if a new UK – EU deal will include free movement of labour. The EU – Norway deal allows for free movement of labour, however some of the key policies of the “leave” campaign included greater control of migration. The devil will be in the detail.
Prior to the Brexit news, the EU was forcing phone providers to scrap roaming charges in 2017.
What will happen now? In reality no one knows until a UK / EU deal is struck, allowing (or not) the UK to benefit from some of the EU negotiated deals. In reality, the UK is still in the EU and until we are not, the UK will enjoy the benefits, including decreasing roaming charges.
UPDATE Our Brexit Update Part 2 is now available.
If you have any questions about the affect Brexit may have on hauliers and couriers, drop us an email.