While the rest of the country grows increasingly bored with the continued ‘Brexit’ negotiations, there’s one sector following the process with anxious interest: European freighters. If your business involves the import and/or export of goods to or from Europe, the likelihood is that your nails have long since been bitten to the quick. What will Britain’s exit from the EU mean for your business? And, increasingly pressingly, what could a no-deal scenario look like? Will all trade come to a grinding halt? Will your business be able to survive? There are so many questions and very few answers.
Here’s what we know so far.
The Current Situation
At present, UK freighters that carry goods to and from Europe must hold a both a Standard International Operator’s Licence and a Community Licence. This allows us unlimited journeys through the EU, carrying your goods. So, when you book freight transportation with a reputable carrier, you know that your goods should reach their destination as planned. The important thing being that with the relevant licenses in place, there’s no risk of your cargo – and the vehicles carrying it – being impounded.
There is also a European Conference of Ministers of Transport (ECMT) permit available. This is only granted to a limited number of hauliers. But it does allow them to carry goods to and through all EU countries other than Cyprus.
So, that’s how things are now, but what happens after March 29th, 2019?
European Freight and ‘Brexit’
At present, the only people who may have any idea at all about what the situation for freight might be in the event of an official and agreed ‘Brexit’, are those politicians involved in the negotiations. And that’s a big ‘may’. It’s hoped that there will be little disruption, that any hiatus will be brief. But only time will tell.
European Freight and ‘No-Deal Brexit’
The major concern with a no-deal scenario is that some EU countries might be prepared to play hardball. Teaching the UK a lesson could be as much of a priority as deterring other potential exits. So, this could mean that UK-issued Community Licences would not be recognised. Therefore UK freighters would be unable to access the EU community.
HOWEVER, those hauliers with ECMT permits would still be able to carry goods as normal. It’s important to remember that there are only a limited number of these permits. So, demand for their services will be high.
Additionally, all UK freighters travelling within the EU will need to register their trailers with the Driver and Vehicle Licensing Agency (DVLA). And ensure that the trailer’s independent licence number is clearly displayed before travel. This will be happening with or without a deal. So, make sure that you check that your freighter is prepared. That way you can ensure no unnecessary delays with your cargo.
The only thing that anyone really knows about ‘Brexit’ right now is that disruption is likely across the board. And that includes UK-European freight. Whether it leads to empty supermarket shelves, as some fear, or simply means additional paperwork remains to be seen. The one thing that is certain, however, is that finding a reliable freight company to work with is the best way to minimise the effects of whatever changes are afoot.