UK hauliers will no longer need ECMT permits to access the EU in the event of a no deal Brexit, after a provisional deal between the European parliament and member states this week.

However the agreement will only run for nine months after Brexit, can be unilaterally revoked by the EU and UK hauliers’ cabotage rights will severely limited and progressively reduced over the nine month period.

The provisional agreement comes just weeks after the UK government announced it would guarantee EU hauliers the same level of access and cabotage rights they currently enjoy, after the UK exits the EU.

It is unclear whether the UK government will hold to this pledge following the announcement of the provisional agreement this week.

However transport minister Jesse Norman warned at the time that if the EU could not come up with a reciprocal arrangement “we will review the UK’s offer to EU hauliers".

Read more

Industry associations warned today (5 March) that the provisional agreement highlights the urgent need for the UK to avoid a no deal Brexit at all costs.

Rod McKenzie, RHA policy and public affairs MD, told “This makes very clear that a no deal Brexit cannot be an option. We cannot have one rule for UK hauliers and another for EU hauliers.

"We will not accept any future deal which disadvantages the UK hauliers. It must be fair and equal. We will resist any attempt to throw away the rights of UK hauliers in some sort of trade off.”

Sarah Laouadi, FTA’s European policy manager, said the deal highlighted “the threat posed to the UK’s trading relationships by a no deal departure from the EU".

She added: “The offer is only valid for nine months from Brexit date, could be revoked unilaterally by the EU without any appeal mechanism, and would not provide the same levels of access as UK hauliers currently enjoy.

“Shippers have come to rely on fully flexible logistics operators, who can move goods as and when necessary, but this would not be possible under the contingency approved today.

“For instance, cabotage rights in the EU would be limited significantly, and progressively reduced during the nine month period under review, with no cabotage rights at all in the final two months of the contingency period. This would have a significant impact on those businesses trading in Europe as they return to the UK.”

A DfT spokeswoman said: “We are confident we will secure a relationship with the EU that maintains the current liberalised access we enjoy.

"If the proposed EU Regulation is in effect on March 29, ECMT permits will not be needed for most UK haulage business to, from and within the EU this year.”