EU plans for no-deal Brexit

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The European Commission has issued a notice on the introduction of border checks for goods moving from the UK into the EU in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

It said: “EU law will stop applying to the UK at midnight on 29 March 2019 – certain entry and exit checks at the EU’s external border will be necessary. Goods entering the EU from the UK – in particular, of animal origin – may also be subject to customs controls and other related checks, controls and restrictions. Some licences and certificates, for example, drivers’ licences or pet passports, may also no longer be valid.”

It has also published more information on its contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit, identifying priority areas where measures could be necessary: residency and visa-related issues, financial services, air transport, customs, sanitary/phytosanitary rules, the transfer of personal data, and climate policy.

It has also made two legislative proposals – one to exempt UK citizens from visa requirements, and one on energy efficiency.

Pauline Bastidon, head of European policy at the Freight Transport Association, said the Commission’s communication fell 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 recognise 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 authorise 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.

* The Road Haulage Association has reacted with caution to a proposal by transport secretary Chris Grayling to expand the port of Ramsgate in an attempt to bypass the Dover-Calais bottleneck in the event of a disorderly Brexit.

Chief executive Richard Burnett said: “This planning to upgrade Ramsgate port operations has come too late to be effective if there is a no-deal Brexit. The port needs dredging – ferries need to be procured and proper crossing routes established.”

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