Transport of goods after Brexit

ESC together with other stakeholders are concerned with the possible impact of Brexit on transport of goods between the UK and the EU. In case of no deal, vehicles travelling between the UK and Europe, regardless of where transport companies are registered, will need a permit to access both the UK and EU haulage markets. Community Licences issued by the UK will not be accepted by the EU.

Stakeholders are considering all alternatives.

The ideal solution would be to have an agreement at the EU level allowing a seamless continuation of transport of goods between the UK and EU after Brexit. It is important for road haulage that the existing levels of transport connectivity with the EU remain the same after Brexit without the need for new transport documents or systems. Achieving an agreement that delivers this would be beneficial for all stakeholders.

Another option to prepare for no-deal Brexit is to have bi-lateral agreements between the UK and each of the EU Member States. For instance, there is an old bi-lateral agreement between the Netherlands and the UK from 1969 that both governments are hoping to revive. However, there are different and conflicting legal opinions on the possibility to revive such agreement. The agreement was permit-free but did not allow for cross-trade. As for Belgium, the country does not have an agreement that could be revived. Moreover, the old Belgian agreement foresaw the use of permits and did not authorise cross-trade either.

The third solution is ECMT permits (ECMT – European Conference of Ministers of Transport / Conférence Européenne des Ministres des Transports). ECMT permits are multilateral. They make cross-trade possible but not cabotage. There are restrictions on the number of trips one can perform with a given permit and there is a limit of permits that can be issued per country. For the UK, that limit is 1 224 permits annually. For reference, 500 trucks cross into the EU from the UK daily. To avoid a situation where these permits would be allocated on a first come first served basis (which would create chaos and most certainly shortages), the UK Government has introduced secondary legislation with allocation criteria such as intensity of use (i.e. Importance of international transport for a given company), though even if it is passed by the Parliament, it will not be enough.