The Government has introduced new legislation on cross-border haulage as the UK continues its preparations for life outside the EU.
The UK’s overall aim in negotiations with the EU is to maintain and develop the existing liberalised access for commercial haulage, as part of a wider future partnership. It is possible that this could require a form of permitting system and the Government will need legal frameworks in place for a new administrative system if required.
The Haulage Permits & Trailer Registration Bill is intended to provide this flexibility, and to give the UK the power to support UK hauliers operating internationally after the UK leaves the EU. Key elements of the bill include:
- Arrangements to enable a permit scheme if required as part of a deal with the EU – ensuring UK hauliers can obtain the necessary paperwork to provide services to and from EU countries.
- The establishment of a trailer registration scheme in line with the 1968 Vienna Convention – this will ensure UK operators driving on the Continent can comply with the requirements of those EU countries which require the registration of all trailers travelling on their roads.
Some European countries have agreements with third countries which require a permit as a condition for hauliers to operate across borders. The bill will ensure the UK is prepared to manage the issuing of permits should this be needed as part of post-exit arrangements.
Through a separate parliamentary process to the bill, the UK intends to ratify the 1968 Vienna Convention on Road Traffic. The Convention was introduced by the United Nations to build on earlier conventions that enable international road travel and increase safety by establishing common traffic rules.
Under the Convention’s terms, access to foreign roads is only guaranteed for registered motor vehicles and trailers. The bill will therefore enable the UK to introduce and enforce an international trailer registration system. Mandatory registration will apply primarily to commercial trailers travelling internationally.
The UK already conforms to the majority of aspects in the convention through the Highway Code. Exemptions will be applied to some of the articles within the Convention.
James Hookham, Deputy Chief Executive of the Freight Transport Association, said the FTA “supports this bill as a sensible contingency measure, but one that exporting and importing businesses hope never has to be used. Any decision which will enable the frictionless movement of trade to continue between the UK and EU is to be welcomed, and the UK’s logistics industry needs reassurance that ‘business as normal’ can continue throughout the negotiations and transition period.
“We also support the government’s objective of ensuring that no limits are set on the number of goods vehicles crossing between the EU and UK after Brexit, to ensure that Britain and its European neighbours can maintain an effective trading relationship.”