The haulage sector plays an important role in our economy and I recognise that it faces particular difficulties in the context of Brexit.
My Department has maintained close contact with road haulage stakeholders in the context of Brexit and continues to work with the industry representative bodies to keep hauliers and businesses informed of developments, in keeping with our long-established practice. My officials held meetings on a number of occasions this year with representatives of Freight Transport Association Ireland and the Irish Road Haulage Association to discuss Brexit and the whole-of-Government preparations and, importantly, preparations by industry. I addressed an FTAI event on 29 August and emphasised the ongoing need for the transport and logistics sector to prepare for Brexit.
My Department hosted a Brexit Freight Maritime Forum with key road transport and maritime stakeholders, including haulage industry representative bodies, in January of this year. The Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, the Revenue Commissioners and the Department of Agriculture, Food and the Marine were also in attendance and addressed the Forum. My Department was represented at a number of the Irish Retail Grocery and Distribution Sector Roundtable events to date in 2019 hosted by the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation and engagement with this sector, including haulage industry representatives, is continuing.
In March, my Department issued a comprehensive Brexit communications notice to all Irish licensed international road haulage operators outlining the position on a range of transport issues that would arise in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This notice is published in my Department’s area of www.gov.ie and the information available online will continue to be updated to keep industry stakeholders informed of Brexit developments. An updated notice will be issued to the sector in the event of a potential no-deal Brexit on 31 January 2020.
My Department has also advocated at EU level for contingency measures to assist hauliers in continuing to access the UK market if the UK exits the EU without an agreement in place. Regulation (EU) 2019/501 of the European Parliament and of the Council was adopted by the EU on 25 March 2019 to ensure the maintenance of basic road connectivity for road freight transport in the event of a no-deal Brexit, allowing UK road haulage operators to continue to access the EU on the basis that the UK gives reciprocal access to EU road haulage operators. In October 2019, the period of application of this Regulation was extended to 31 July 2020.
The Irish Maritime Development Office (IMDO) study into the implications of Brexit on the use of the landbridge, published in November 2018, estimated that approximately 150,000 Heavy Goods Vehicles (HGVs) travel between Ireland and the continent via the landbridge each year. A cross-departmental Landbridge Project Group, chaired by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, was established in October 2017 and has been working on measures aimed at ensuring the ongoing effective and efficient use of the landbridge post-Brexit, including the key Dover-Calais route. The Group continues to engage with our EU partners to find solutions to minimise the potential disruption to Irish hauliers’ access to and through the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit. In liaison with my Department, the IMDO hosted a workshop on 4 September 2019 to discuss maritime connectivity in the context of Brexit, and the Irish Road Haulage Association and Freight Transport Association Ireland were invited to this event, along with shipping companies, ports authorities, and importers/exporters.
The Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (DBEI) has a range of supports available to business including the freight and logistic sector and details can be found on their website www.dbei.gov.ie.
My Department, along with other Government Departments, has emphasised the importance of stakeholders taking all necessary steps within their control to prepare for Brexit, including undertaking contingency planning to minimise the impact of Brexit on their operations. I would encourage road haulage operators to refer to the European Commission’s published Notices to Stakeholders in the field of road transport, the EU’s basic road connectivity contingency Regulation and the section titled “Brexit and Transport – What You Need to Know” in my Department’s area of www.gov.ie.