My Department's website, www.dttas.gov.ie, provides full information on the implications of Brexit for the transport sector and also contains links to supports that are available generally to businesses impacted by Brexit, including the haulage sector, through the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation. These extensive supports, schemes and advice are intended to ensure that businesses are prepared for Brexit, and are assisting businesses to meet their challenges by identifying key risk areas and the practical preparatory actions to be taken over the coming weeks. Details can be found on their website www.dbei.gov.ie.
In addition, the Communication published by the European Commission on 4 September contains a new checklist for businesses and additional legislative proposals relating to contingency measures. Importantly for the haulage sector, the Commission has proposed to extend the regulation ensuring basic road freight and road passenger connectivity (Regulation (EU) 2019/501) which was due to expire on the 31 December 2019. The Commission proposal provides for an extension until 31 July 2020, reflecting the logic and the duration of the original Regulation which had been adopted prior to the extension of the Article 50 period to 31 October 2019. The extension of this Regulation will provide certainty to transport operators about continuity of services cross-border bus and international road haulage.
The new Commission detailed checklist will help those businesses that trade with the UK to identify what final preparations may be required. In order to minimise disruption to trade, all parties involved in supply chains with the UK – regardless of where they are based – should be aware of their responsibilities and the necessary formalities in cross-border trade. This builds on previous Commission communications and 100 stakeholder notices, which cover a broad range of sectors.
The continued use of the landbridge as a key route connecting Ireland with the continent is a crucial concern given the level of imports and exports that are transported via this route, it is estimated that 16% of the Roll-on/Roll-off traffic between Ireland and GB is traffic using the landbridge to transport goods to and from European ports. The total value of our trade using the landbridge has been estimated to be approximately €21 billion. Goods using the landbridge include many time-sensitive or perishable goods, with almost all of this traffic being handled by Dublin and Rosslare ports.
Some trade currently using the landbridge route may, depending on the nature of the product, switch to the direct routes to the continent. For others, some delays at UK and other EU ports may not be such as to constitute a significant deterrent to the continued use of the landbridge. However, the use of the landbridge for some other products that are perishable or very time sensitive may become unviable and may also not be viable on the longer direct maritime links.
Officials from my Department have assessed the maritime capacity for direct sailings between Ireland and continental EU ports as a potential alternative for trade that currently takes place using the Landbridge. Based on consultations with the shipping sector and wider stakeholders, the preliminary assessment is that sufficient capacity will be available on direct routes to continental ports from end October 2019, and should demand for further capacity arise, the shipping sector can respond to meet such demands.
Furthermore, on 4 September 2019, my Department in conjunction with the IMDO, hosted a workshop in relation to Maritime connectivity. A range of stakeholders attended, such as importers, exporters, ferry companies, haulage companies and business sectors. The aim of this workshop was to provide a forum to consider the risk posed by the UK Landbridge and the options for future direct connectivity to continental ports.