Brexit could lead to Irish hauliers avoiding UK
Lorries may not have valid licences to travel to Britain if certification process changes
File photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
New legislation in the UK to replace the EU licensing system for hauliers may result in Irish lorries avoiding Britain entirely, the Irish Road Haulage Association has said.
Legislation introduced in the British parliament this week paves the way for British certification of hauliers’ licences and vehicles, as opposed to EU certification as is currently the case.
When Britain leaves the EU its hauliers face not having valid licences to travel across the continent. The British government is anxious that its own licensing system be in place in advance of Brexit, and is seeking a deal on mutual recognition of licensing with the EU.
However, speaking after she attended a meeting with members of the House of Commons Welsh Affairs Committee at the British embassy in Dublin this week, Verona Murphy of the hauliers’ association said it was “shocking” how little implications of Brexit had been thought out.
She said two future licensing systems between the EU and Britain, which cover issues such as the conduct of hauliers, drivers and the condition of rigs, would have to be “word for word the same”.
Otherwise, she said hauliers would have to be compliant with separate sets of regulations simultaneously. Any deviation in legal requirements by either side could be extremely problematic for drivers and owners, she said.
The licensing system is set to be an issue regardless of a hard or soft border in Ireland as the Brexit discussions to date have centred on customs and market issues.
Ms Murphy said this had potentially grave implications for hauliers in Northern Ireland accessing contracts in the South as well as the other way around, and for hauliers from Ireland travelling to Britain.
Ms Murphy said extra capacity on routes from Irish ports to Europe was a significant development and it seemed as if hauliers were drifting towards that route instead of travelling across Britain.
She said there was already a new crossing from Dublin to Zeebrugge in Belgium and another planned from Cork to Santander in northern Spain. In addition, Irish Ferries were introducing a new route from Dublin to France, she noted.
The meeting with the Welsh was shocking, she said. Mr Murphy said those she spoke to were elated at already increased prices for Welsh lamb. But she said the lamb was being sold in Britain where the extra price was being paid by British consumers. She said EU companies hauling into Britain were already disaffected with the fall in the value of sterling and Britain may have to rush to build up its own haulage fleet after Brexit.