The UK is still currently part of the EU. Brexit is a staged process and is set down by Article 50 of the 2009 Lisbon Treaty, which has never previously been invoked by another Member State. After Article 50 was triggered and sent to the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union, the UK and the EU negotiate future relations. The UK is still a member of the EU and will fully participate in EU business.
Other European countries, like Switzerland and Norway, have their own relationships with the EU which have been negotiated over years and these relationships offer frameworks of what can be achieved for the UK. These frameworks provide certain pillars of EU membership such as the free movement of goods to extend, but they require many conditions to be respected such as respect for competition rules and other regulatory controls.
Current transport law:
The underpinning law for HGV operators is found in the Goods Vehicles (Licensing of Operators) Act 1995, which is domestic legislation, meaning Brexit does not affect the status of this.
Rules on driver’s hours began in Europe’s EC Regulation 561/2006, which the UK adopted within the Transport Act 1968 – which will remain the law when we leave the EU so driver’s hours rules will have very little impact on the underlying UK laws.
Any Haulier operating outside of the UK would still have to be operating in accordance with EU regulations to avoid criminal implications while driving in those countries.
An area of law which may change upon leaving the EU will be in terms of cabotage. The UK Government deal with this during the exit negotiations as ignorance with regard to this issue could cause untold damage to operators that undertake journeys across the EU.
A fairly recent EU Regulation applied to EU members from March 2016 introducing the “smart tachograph” which aimed to reduce the administrative red tape on hauliers and to eliminate the most serious forms of tachograph offending. This regulation means that vehicles that are registered for the first time after 2 March 2019 will need to be fitted with a smart tachograph.
There seems to be little sense in the UK looking to unravel European driven transport legislation as that will undermine UK hauliers’ ability to participate in European trade and the movement of goods on the Continent.
We could initially see stricter border controls. The expectation is that this will mean that the ability to cross the border into and out of the UK will be a slower process, therefore affecting the efficiency of transport operations.
Driver shortages after Brexit:
The haulage sector draws heavily from the EU for its workers and must now deal with the potential of not having access to workers moving into the UK to fill these driving jobs. A further issue could be that foreign labour returns home if the pound continues to drop and Britain enters the recession. However, it may be that to deal with the issue of driver shortages, the Government pulls away from the EU driven concept of Driver CPC (DCPC), which some people see as a hindrance to new labour entering the haulage industry.
Driving licenses and customs delays:
In a no-deal Brexit UK driving licenses will no longer be valid in the EU, unless with an international driving permit. For hauliers, this becomes a vast administrative undertaking and will undoubtedly cause delays.
Research by the Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) found that just half an hour of UK customs delays has the potential to bankrupt around 10% of firms.
Certificate of professional competence:
Drivers, transport operators and managers must have a Certificate of Professional Competence in order to work in the EU. Previously, this certificate was more accessible to acquire as they can be issued in the UK. Brexit means drivers will need their certification to be issued from an EU country to continue working in the EU. A driver breaking the rules would potentially be voiding their vehicle insurance, which is a no-go for hauliers.
A no-deal Brexit will mean that UK firms, who want to continue operating in the EU will need a ‘Permanent Establishment’ in an EU member state. Those without a ‘Permanent Establishment’ will no longer be able to deliver goods within the EU.