Road Haulage (NI Brexit)

UPDATE : the EU Council has now agreed its position on basic road connectivity – here.

There is uncertainty in the haulage industry about what will happen at EU borders if the UK leaves without a Brexit deal next month.

Back in November, the UK Government issued guidance to UK hauliers stating that they “might need ECMT permits to transport goods in the EU and European Economic Area (EEA)” if there is no deal by 29 March.

The European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permits can be used in a list of 43 countries which have signed up to the international arrangement.

The deadline for 2019 applications expired on 18 January 2019 and on Saturday night, many hauliers were informed on whether or not they were successful. I posted earlier about the deadline.

ECMT permits were over-subscribed and allocated on a points-based system, with higher scores awarded to firms who make a larger number of journeys into EU member states.

It would appear the Department for Transport (DfT) did not take into account journeys to the Republic of Ireland from Northern Ireland operators, whereas English, Scottish or Welsh hauliers were credited with their journeys to the Republic of Ireland.

Just over 1,200 permits were available for the UK as a whole and it is likely only 60-70 were made available to Northern Ireland firms.

In its guidance issued last year, the Government said it expected that Northern Ireland hauliers “will not need an ECMT permit” to drive to or through the Republic of Ireland.

It stated it would not require Republic of Ireland hauliers to have ECMT permits to operate in Northern Ireland.

It added that the UK was seeking a reciprocal agreement from the Irish government to allow Northern Ireland hauliers to travel across the Irish border without a permit.

I posted earlier that the European Commission (in its Contingency Plan) has proposed legislation that would allow UK hauliers basic rights (on a reciprocal basis) to conduct operations to, from and through the EU for a limited period of nine months after exit, if there is no deal.

“The Commission’s proposal will need to be agreed by the Council and European Parliament, and is being considered by both institutions urgently.” (UK Transport Minister, by statement last week)

The minister said he laid legislation before Parliament last week to provide for that access. [this will be included in the Brexit Law List, added to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Law Checklists]