The Freight Transport Association (FTA) has welcomed the call from UK PM Teresa May for a transition period to be a key priority for the talks and says “finally” the logistics message on Brexit is being heard.
UK and European Union negotiators met for the latest round of talks in Brussels last week after May gave her speech in Florence.
The FTA has been lobbying for such a transition period since Article 50 was triggered in March this year, to enable the preparation of necessary systems and processes to ensure post-Brexit trade can run smoothly.
FTA’s head of European policy, Pauline Bastidon says May’s speech finally recognised the “complexities of the trading relationships and processes which will need to be agreed and implemented”.
Bastidon says May’s call for a transitional period, to give enough time for negotiators to conclude a trade agreement, and for authorities and businesses to adapt, is a “huge relief” for a logistics industry charged with ensuring trade continues to move smoothly after Brexit.
She adds: “The government has finally acknowledged the scale and complexities of the task ahead to ensure frictionless trade across borders with the European Union, both mainland Europe and in Ireland, which will come as a relief to our members, which have expressed concern while facing the task of ensuring that goods and services still reach their destinations.
“It is now imperative that the intentions outlined in Mrs May’s speech are followed by concrete actions. Logistics arrangements affect every part of our daily lives and need to be prioritised in Brexit negotiations.
“Customers need to be certain that vehicles and planes can keep moving, that drivers can operate across borders and supply chains will not have to face insurmountable challenges overnight on Brexit day.”
Bastidon notes setting up necessary arrangements for post-Brexit trade will take time and effort to get right and both industry and the authorities deserve some certainty that the status quo will prevail until all parties are ready to proceed with new arrangements.
She adds: “The UK’s trading partnership with the European Union is vital to the future health and growth of the British economy and it is now time for the detail of how these relationships are to develop to be at the top of the Brexit negotiating agenda.”
Bastidon also urges clarity from government negotiators regarding trading arrangements with Ireland, which were missing from May’s speech as it is a “hugely complex one” and creative solutions are required to ensure a hard border is not established between the Republic and Northern Ireland.