As the second round of Brexit talks got underway today – the Freight Transport Association (FTA) says negotiations must move ahead with speed to compensate for delays caused by the general election.
Reports claim EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will stray from the official agenda this week to discuss import quotas. FTA says negotiators on both sides must rapidly find a common view on topics in the first phase of negotiations to speedily move on to issues such as trade, transport, customs, and transitional arrangements, without which industry faces a ‘cliff-edge’.
FTA’s head of European policy, Pauline Bastidon says: “The clock is ticking and we urgently need agreement on the first phase of negotiations so we can move on to crucial issues such as trade, transport and the establishment of a transition period to allow businesses and authorities alike to adapt.
“If time runs out and this is not discussed, there will be dramatic and potentially disastrous consequences. Without resolution of these issues, we could face restrictions to international freight transport, delays at the borders and disruptions to supply chains. We must urgently start discussing concrete solutions to ensure that trade movements are not impeded.”
Other key issues for FTA are citizens’ rights and the Irish border. For FTA members, it is crucial to protect the rights of citizens so that industry can retain access to the workers it needs. The UK logistics industry relies on EU workers: 13 per cent of drivers and 26 per cent of warehouse operatives are EU nationals.
Bastidon says: “Finding rapid and clear solutions for them is essential, as every month of prolonged uncertainty has a negative impact on our members.”
On Ireland, FTA is urging negotiators to find ambitious and innovative solutions to prevent the return of a hard border. “Supply chains are interlinked, our members in Northern Ireland cross the border up to 30 or 40 times a day in some cases, and we therefore need specific arrangements for the island of Ireland,” she says.