Goods & passenger transport in & out of the EU: a safety valve to keep wheels moving

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You will recall from previous articles that if no UK/EU Free Trade Agreement were concluded (i.e. “no deal”) international goods and passenger operators would be left without the ability to conduct journeys to and from the EU unless some other arrangements were found. Goods operators would have to rely on ‘ECMT Permits’ – there are only a fraction available for the entire UK international goods vehicle fleet. Operators fear this cliff edge at the end of 2020.

However, there may be light at the end of the tunnel – the European Union has now proposed a contingency plan: a temporary measure for goods and passenger operations to and from the EU from 1 January 2021, avoiding the need for permits and, in effect, allowing transport to continue for a short time, subject to agreed conditions. If this is all approved and agreed – that would seem likely – it would mean that UK hauliers could continue to carry out journeys to and from the EU until 30 June 2021.

It appears to be the case that if the Free Trade Agreement fails and/or there are other delays in resolving continued operations post 1 January 2021 then the EU and the UK do have a clear intent to ensure that goods and passenger operators can carry out journeys.

The proposals

The document which can be found here proposes rules for “ensuring basic road freight and road passenger connectivity following the end of the transition period”.

It confirms how, from 31 December 2020, Community Licences issued by the UK to goods and passenger operators are no longer valid meaning a loss of access to those operators to the European Union market. Further, it explains in stark terms how there are only limited numbers of ECMT permits and that the “loss by those operators and their right to provide road transport freight between the United Kingdom and the European Union would therefore result in serious disruptions including in respect of public order.”

Of course, the above may all be unnecessary if the Free Trade Agreement is indeed reached. Access to the EU Single Market by goods and passenger operators and EU-based operators access to the UK, forms part of the proposed Agreement – it is not a separate arrangement. However, this proposed set of contingency measures means that there is at least a short-term safety valve or insurance in place, to ensure that disruption to ensure that the international transport of goods and passengers can be avoided or at least mitigated – that will be a huge relief to businesses extremely anxious about this.

We Can Help You

We will continue to update you about developments as they arise.

Please contact Tim Ridyard or Tim Norris for individual advice for your business.

Alternatively, if you or your business require advice or need assistance for any road transport matters, please get in touch with our specialist Road Transport team through this website or by calling 0330 404 0778.


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