The Road Haulage Association (RHA) has reported that progress is being made by Department for Transport officials seeking road transport agreements with Eastern European non-EU states, to help ensure ease of access for UK operators after Brexit.
While the agreements being negotiated cover access rights for hauliers to the countries themselves, they don’t include access rights through intervening states, such as EU members.
An agreement is now in place with Serbia, the RHA reports, meaning that permits are not required for freight transport between the UK and Serbia, including transit journeys to or from a third state.
For Ukraine, the existing agreement will be amended, and permits will no longer be required for journeys involving trucks with Euro 5 or 6 engines.
Agreements have also been signed with Belarus and Kazakhstan, and “processes to give legal effect to the existing informal agreements will be completed shortly”. Permits will still be required for journeys between the UK and these countries.
DfT has also recently reached agreement with Bosnia & Herzegovina, Kosovo and Montenegro, says the RHA, on a permit-free basis. These have not been signed formally, but drafting is substantially completed.
The RHA also reminded international hauliers to ensure that they have European Operator Registration Identifier (EORI) numbers, in preparation for a no-deal Brexit scenario.
“It takes around ten minutes to apply and is absolutely critical to ensure that you can continue to import or export goods from/to the EU once we have left on 1 November 2019,” warned the association.
Elsewhere, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) will contribute to ongoing government work to help identify arrangements that could replace the controversial Northern Ireland backstop, which has been a key obstacle in securing a Brexit agreement with Brussels.
The government’s Brexit department has selected FTA policy manager Seamus Leheny as a member of its Business & Trade Union Alternative Arrangements Advisory Group, which includes cross-sector representatives from Ireland, Northern Ireland and the rest of the UK.
“As the organisation representing the logistics sector, it is essential FTA’s voice is included in any major discussion on the UK’s departure from the EU,” said Seamus Leheny.
“So many businesses and individuals’ jobs are dependent on the continued free movement of goods cross the border in both directions, but the lack of progress shown by politicians in sorting future arrangements in Ireland are at the heart of the stagnation of Brexit talks.
“On any given day, more than 13,500 goods vehicles cross just six of the 300 border crossings in Ireland, with the majority of freight being intermediate goods that are an integral part of all-island supply chains.
“My role in this group will be to work to preserve seamless business links between Northern Ireland and EU27 countries, especially the Republic of Ireland, in any Brexit negotiation and protect the interests of those organisations that we represent, as well as the wider Northern Irish economy.”