UK Transport and Brexit News & Views No. 85

Mark’s EU Week for Transport

Despite the Brexit turmoil in London, UK transport industry should be preparing, planning, and protecting

All UK transport companies and organisations should be preparing for all eventualities, including a hard Brexit. The Government and the EU have issued over 200 Brexit preparedness notices and, if you have not done so, you should analyse them to ensure the risks are identified, managed and mitigated. Our consultancy partner IDA has turned them into a risk register.  Let us know if you would like any help with your Brexit preparatory work. During the course of our work, one thing that has become apparent is the real risk of a whole host on unintended consequences for everyone involved in transport, logistics and the supply chain. Even if you are not trading with the Continent, or operating services to, from or within the EU27, there are still many risk factors you need to prepare for, including impacts on human resources, product compliance, financial planning, transport of goods and contracts. 

The UK transport industry needs to plan for Brexit and agree on how we will work together to step up our efforts to influence the EU after we leave. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, all existing EU laws that regulate our sector will continue to apply, and it’s also very likely that almost all new EU laws will apply too. With no formal UK representation in the European Commission, Council or Parliament our collective efforts to influence informally will be crucial. As Aristotle said “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” That’s why we’re planning an event in January next year to bring together the industry with the UK Government to work on our plan for 2019. Let us know if you would like to be involved. 

The outcome of the unfolding historic and tumultuous events over the next few days and weeks are crucial for the future of our industry, our employees and above all our customers. More than ever we need to protect our industry. If we do not speak up for transport, who will? 

This week, I had the chance to have a conversation with Maurice Golden MSP, Scottish Conservative Chief Whip and the party’s spokesman on the Low Carbon Economy in the Scottish Parliament. We discussed Brexit, and future transport and environment policy cooperation between the UK and the EU. You can access the video here.

This week’s song of the week, ‘I Will Survive‘ by Gloria Gayner. 

1. No-deal Brexit: Disruption at Dover ‘could last six months’
Ministers have said that Dover and other Channel ports could face disruption for up to six months if the UK leaves the EU without a deal. Health Secretary Matt Hancock MP wrote that if France or other EU countries imposed additional border checks in a no-deal scenario, the impact was “likely to be felt mostly on the short straits crossings into Dover and Folkestone” affecting both exports and imports, with “significantly reduced access” for up to six months. He added that “I don’t know how likely ‘no deal’ is. It is what happens automatically unless Parliament passes something else”. In Kent County Council’s Update Brexit preparedness update, Council leader Paul Carter said “We now need far more input and information from national government in how they are going to work with us”. He further added that “there must be a national freight transport plan which, when necessary, can hold lorries back from coming into Kent in the first place should the need arise.” The fear of No-Deal has remained ever-present as the negotiations enter the endgame, especially as the stakes increase in the UK domestic political scene.

2. Mobility Package I general approach reached
Last week, the Transport Ministers in the Transport Council reached a general approach on Mobility Package I, which includes a number of important social reforms for the road sector and is a flagship file of the Juncker Commission. Measures in Mobility Package I, include proposals for regulations on access to the occupation of road transport operator, on access to the haulage market and for directives on rest time periods and tachographs, and the posting of drivers. The agreement on a general approach now paves the way for trilogues to begin on the Mobility Package I measures, due to begin the New Year. In a written statement to Parliament on the Mobility Package I, Chris Grayling highlighted that “the ‘social pillar’ is intended to establish a specific regulatory regime for the posting of workers in the road transport sector, and the ‘market pillar’ is intended to introduce new regulatory requirements for the operation of light commercial vehicles (vans) and to modify the ‘cabotage’ rules for vehicles operating in countries other than their country of establishment”.

3. Commission calls for a climate neutral Europe by 2050
In the buildup to COP 24, the European Commission published a strategic long-term vision for a prosperous, modern, competitive and climate neutral economy by 2050. The strategy shows how Europe can lead the way to climate neutrality by investing into realistic technological solutions, empowering citizens, and aligning action in key areas such as industrial policy, finance, or research. With transport at the heart of the new strategy, Commissioner for Transport, Violeta Bulc said: “all transport modes should contribute to the decarbonisation of our mobility system. The goal is to reach net-zero emissions by 2050. This requires a system approach with low and zero emission vehicles, strong increase in rail network capacity, and a much more efficient organisation of the transport system, based on digitalisation; incentives for behavioural changes; alternative fuels and smart infrastructure; and global commitments. All this driven by innovation and investments”.

4. Will the EU rise to the challenge of decarbonising Heavy Duty Vehicles?
Last month, Mark’s blog posed the following question: ‘is the EU finally getting serious about decarbonising transport?’ and he analysed the latest EU plans to curb CO2 emissions from cars and light vans. This month, in his blog, Mark covers the fact that unlike the US, China, Japan and Canada, Europe does not yet regulate C02 emissions and fuel efficiency of HDVs. However, this glaring gap in the battle against climate change moved one big step closer to being when MEPs voted to toughen European Commission proposals on the CO2 emissions performance standards for new heavy-duty vehicles Heavy Duty Vehicles (HDVs), such as lorries, buses and coaches. The question is: will the EU rise to the challenge of decarbonising Heavy Duty Vehicles?

5. UKTiE has also put together the latest timetable for Brexit. We will keep this up to date as the process develops:

  • 29 March 2017 – A50 triggered.
  • 5 April 2017 – European Parliament adopted Brexit guidelines.
  • 22 May 2017 – Brexit negotiating directives approved by Council.
  • 19 June 2017 –  Negotiations formally began.
  • 23 March 2018– European Council agreed guidelines on the future trading relationship.
  • 30 September 2018 – Date by which EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, wanted to conclude the terms of Britain’s exit from the Union.
  • 11 December 2018 – House of Commons vote on WIthdrawal Agreement
  • 30 March 2019 – Britain formally exits the EU, following ratification of Brexit by all other member states and the European Parliament.
  • 23-26 May 2019 – European Parliament election.
  • 31 December 2020 – End of transition period. (TBC)
Mark Watts
UK transport in Europe (UKTiE)
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