EU's no-deal contingency plans a “recipe for disaster”

EU's no-deal contingency plans a “recipe for disaster”

The EU’s latest contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit would be "a recipe for disaster, for the supply chain and the UK economy", the Freight Transport Association is warning.

It follows the publication of a new Communication from the EU which outlines the EU preparation plans should UK withdraw from the EU “in a disorderly manner”. 

Contingency measures for customs, road transport or food trade are few and will only be adopted  “where strictly necessary”, pointing to severe disruption at the border from May 30 onwards. 

“Ensuring a level-playing field and smooth trade flows will be particularly challenging in the areas with the densest goods traffic with the United Kingdom,” the report said. 

Pauline Bastidon, Head of European Policy at the Freight Transport Association (FTA) said while an agreement for Brexit at a technical level might have been agreed, “the road towards a ratified deal is still a long one, full of obstacles.” 

She said the EU’s contingency plans will be crucial in this context but these “fall well short of industry’s needs and expectations”.

She explained: “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 recognises 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 authorised 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.”