The European Shippers’ Council has called for a transitional period even if there is a no deal exit from the European Union for the United Kingdom.
Britain’s House of Commons is due to vote on the Government’s Brexit proposals during the week beginning 14 January with the expectation by all impartial observers, and some partial observers, that Prime Minister Theresa May will lose that vote.
Should the government be defeated the European shippers expect the time frame for leaving will be too short to develop another agreement, which the European Union has already ruled out anyway. With this in mind shippers are concerned that a cliff edge departure from the single market will be catastrophic for trade.
“If the present Brexit withdrawal agreement does not pass the vote in the House of Commons in mid-January, a cliff-edge scenario will be the most likely one. In this case, producers and traders [can] give no guarantee that the goods will reach their clients in time and in good condition,” an European Shippers’ Council statement said.
As the deadline for Britain’s withdrawal from the European Union approaches in less than 100 days, there is no clear picture of what the border regime will be, a situation that the council said was “unacceptable”.
The impact of a hard Brexit will hit traders and consumers on both sides of The Channel with foods and medicines at risk under this scenario. Many companies have invested heavily in an attempt to avert a chaotic withdrawal, but this will not be enough.
“The capacity of warehouses in the UK has already been used completely and it is nearly impossible to rent additional space in warehouses for emergency stocks. At the same time providers of logistics services and automation are also completely booked for the period around Brexit,” the European Shippers’ Council claims.
A transitional period until the end of 2020 would allow governments and companies, in Europe and the United Kingdom to finalise their preparations and would also allow governments time to negotiate a Free Trade Agreement for goods and services that would allow for the free flow of goods across the European Union borders.