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As the political abyss in the UK over its departure from the European Union continues to widen, the Freight Transport Association has urged road freight providers engaged in cross-Channel movements to submit applications for international permits.

UK haulage operators will need ECMT (European Conference of Ministers of Transport) permits to take goods to the EU and EEA (European Economic Area) if the UK leaves without a deal on 29 March.

And the deadline for applying for an ECMT permit is the end of this week.

Sarah Laouadi, FTA European policy manager, said: “A no-deal exit from the EU remains a distinct possibility and businesses must prepare for this. Applications for ECMT permits close this week and FTA advises businesses to submit their applications urgently, or risk being unable to travel in the event of a no-deal outcome.”

However, she also warned that the UK’s capacity to issue permits remained painfully low, and said the FTA had tabled some interim proposals to the UK government to keep goods moving.

“The number of ECMT permits available to British operators is painfully short of the required total – it is likely to cover only 5% of the current vehicle journeys between the UK and EU.

“Without frictionless movement between the UK and the EU, the delicate supply chain our economy relies upon will be in jeopardy.

“With this in mind, the FTA has prepared a list of emergency ‘mini-deals’ and contingency measures, covering areas including truck permits, aviation and VAT, which we will demand the UK government prioritises with Brussels urgently to limit the disruption of a no-deal scenario,” she said.

Some relief for the sector and shippers short of road capacity might yet come from the EU, she added.

“The European Commission has already tabled a proposal whereby UK hauliers could carry out certain transport operations in the EU on the basis of mutual recognition of the community licence. However, this arrangement would not cover cabotage or transport between two EU countries and comes with many other restrictions and caveats.

“In the meantime, operators should apply for ECMT permits as there is no guarantee there will be a workable alternative in time,” she said.

Here’s where you go for more information or to apply for an ECMT permit:

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