While the UK and EU’s negotiators have apparently managed to reach an agreement for Brexit at technical level, the road towards a ratified deal is still a long one, full of obstacles. The European Commission’s Communication on contingency actions in the event of no deal published earlier today is therefore crucial in this context.
This Communication falls well short of the logistics sector’s expectations. Measures taken would only be temporary, ending at the latest at the end of 2019, and the European Commission could unilaterally revoke them at any time. This is no base on which companies can operate efficiently. The range of proposed measures is also completely insufficient. While basic provisions are suggested for aviation, which is a good thing for segments of the economy relying on air freight, the European Commission simply does not have a plan for road haulage. The Communication merely recognises that there will not be enough ECMT permits to cover the needs of vehicles travelling between the UK and EU but offers no solution. Considering the range of industries and time-sensitive supply chains relying on the roll-on, roll off (ro-ro) model, as well as the volume of trucks crossing the UK-EU borders every day, this is reckless. The European Commission warns member states not to engage in bilateral discussions with the UK, but what is the alternative if no EU solution is to be expected?
It is also disappointing, if predictable, to see that no adaptations to customs and sanitary requirements will be made, even in the short term. Very little is said about the impact of checks on the traffic on both sides of the border. Even more concerning, the Communication seems to suggest that the UK might not be listed as an authorised third country for the export of agri-food products from the UK, meaning that UK agri-food products could get barred from entering the EU market, at least for a few weeks/months.
In short, this list of contingency measures falls well short of industry’s needs and expectations. We can only hope that a deal gets ratified in time or that the European Commission reviews it’s plans completely. Pursuing the course outlined by the EU’s contingency plans would be a recipe for disaster, for the supply chain and the UK economy.
Pauline Bastidon , head of European Policy, FTA.