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EU extend Brexit contingency measures
The EU has announced that regulations ensuring basic road freight movements will be extended until 31 July, while air connectivity regulations would be extended until 24 October 2020.
The contingencies were put in place earlier this year in order to ensure that essential transport connections remained in place until 30 March 2020.
But the UK’s subsequent delay of its Brexit withdrawal from the EU to 31 October 2019 has prompted an amendment to the agreements.
The short time remaining and the political situation in the UK have increased the risk that the UK will withdraw on 31st October without an agreement the Commission said in a statement.
It says there should be no assumption that the UK will extend the Brexit deadline, or that such an extension would be agreed before 31 October, and that final preparations must continue for a UK withdrawal – without a post-Brexit deal – from 1 November.
The previous air contingency agreement had been aligned to the IATA winter season for 2019-20 and, if the UK withdraws on 31 October, it would only apply for less than half of the originally-envisaged period.
Under the revised contingency proposal the basic connectivity would continue to apply for the IATA summer 2020 season, and the amended agreement would expire on 24 October 2020.
The Freight Transport Association (FTA) says the European Commission proposal to modify the end date of its continuity arrangements for road haulage and aviation to 2020 ‘would give UK logistics operators welcome breathing space as they continue their Brexit preparations’
But with both proposals only providing extended access to the EU transport market for an additional seven months and aviation until 24 October 2020, operators undertaking business planning for the year ahead still face uncertainty.
The news eases some of the anxieties of UK road and air freight operators, who had been left to wonder whether they could still deliver goods to and from the EU after the end of the year.
However, seven months is a relatively short time and we face another cliff edge of uncertainty, if a longer-term proposal for future road and air access cannot be confirmed with the EU in a timely manner.
Many of these easements need to be discussed and ratified by the UK parliament and the recent prorogation issues will mean that their formal extension may only come at the eleventh hour.
Freight forwarders, carriers and their customers should continue to prepare for a no-deal Brexit on 31 October, as a disorderly Brexit on 31 October continues to be a possibility.