Brussels says Britain can’t expect to retain present level of access to the bloc after transition period ends at the start of next year. Britain and the European Union are facing issues over continued access to the EU market for UK road hauliers, as formal Brexit talks resumed yesterday.
Brussels appears to have rejected a British proposal that would allow UK truckers to continue to pick up and drop off goods inside and between countries in the bloc and have transit rights to places like Turkey, as it is too similar to granting access to the EU’s single market.
However, trade body Logistics UK is urging the government to keep pressing for a deal with their European counterparts.
“Leaving the EU without a free trade agreement would hurt businesses on both sides of the Channel, putting pan-European supply chains at risk and potentially driving up the price of trade between the UK and its biggest trading partner,” said Elizabeth de Jong, Logistics UK’s policy director.
“There are two sides to every border, and we are very hopeful that the EU will recognise the economic benefits to having continued access to the UK market for its hauliers, while acknowledging the contribution that UK hauliers bring to their own market. After all, the EU’s hauliers do double the value of haulage trade in the UK that the UK’s own operators do in the EU.”
She added: “Logistics UK is hopeful that a compromise can be reached in negotiations – without one, the situation for both UK and EU hauliers is very bleak, as the alternative permit system provides very little access on either side of the border, and the resulting slowdown in traffic across the border would put the nation’s interconnected supply chain at risk.”
Yesterday, The Times reported that progress on a Brexit deal is being threatened by Brussels’s refusal to grant UK truckers wide-ranging access to the EU, as formal negotiations resumed.
It said negotiators were expected to clash on the future of the haulage industry after it was reported that the European Commission rejected a British request for trucking access as “fundamentally unbalanced”.
The newspaper quoted the Road Haulage Association’s managing director of policy, Rod McKenzie, who said: “This is all about smooth movement of traffic from the UK to the EU and vice versa. What we want in the world of road haulage is a deal because only through having a deal could we have a relatively smooth passage of freight, which is all important to us.”
The EU’s lead Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, warned publicly last month that Britain could not expect to retain its present level of access to the EU after the transition period ends at the start of next year. He singled out road haulage as an area where the UK “continued to request single-market like benefits.”