Road haulage transport would be seriously affected if the UK left the EU without a withdrawal agreement. The European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) backs the Commission's temporary measures on road freight transport services between the UK and the EU in the event of a "no‑deal" Brexit, pointing out that a transitional period with reciprocity of haulage rights should be put in place.
Road freight transport is a key sector for both the UK and the EU. According to the UK's Road Haulage Association, more than 4.4 million driver-accompanied freight vehicles connect the UK and the EU every year. In 2015, the UK exported a total of 21 350 000 tonnes of goods by road to the EU, whereas the EU exported 26 816 000 tonnes to the UK.
In the opinion adopted at the February plenary session and drafted by Raymond Hencks, the EESC endorses the Commission's proposal to adopt temporary measures to ensure basic international connectivity of heavy goods vehicles in the event of a "no-deal" scenario and insists on the principle of reciprocal haulage rights.
We very much hope that, by the date of the UK's withdrawal, the British authorities will have decided on a set of equivalent temporary measures, granting EU carriers operating in the UK the same rights as those proposed, on a temporary basis, by the Commission for carriers holding a UK licence, authorising them to provide freight transport between UK territory and the remaining 27 Member States, pointed out Mr Hencks.
The common rules for access to the international road haulage market throughout the European Union are laid down by Regulation (EC) No 1072/2009, which is aimed at removing all restrictions on people providing goods transport on the grounds of nationality or the fact they are established in a different Member State from the one in which the service is provided. Member States issue a Community licence and, if the driver is from a third country, also a driver attestation.
In the absence of a withdrawal agreement, road freight transport services between the UK and the EU Member States would cease to be governed by this regulation. UK road haulage services would no longer be bound by EU law and, without a valid licence, UK road haulage operators would no longer have access to the EU market. Most probably, the same would apply to EU operators.
In order to avoid disruption with a disastrous impact on both sides, the Commission presented a proposal laying down temporary measures to make sure basic connectivity is maintained for a strictly time-limited period. The proposed regulation grants UK road haulage operators the right to move freely within the European Union for a transitional period until 31 December 2019, according to the common EU rules on access to the international haulage market, and provided that EU carriers can also move freely in the UK under fair, equal and non-discriminatory conditions of competition.