FTA: Brexit Talks Must Make Rapid Progress To Prevent Disaster
As the second round of Brexit talks got underway this week, the Freight Transport Association (FTA)—the UK’s largest transport trade association—says negotiations must move ahead with speed to compensate for delays caused by the general election.
Reports claim EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier will stray from the official agenda this week to discuss import quotas. FTA says negotiators on both sides must rapidly find a common view on topics in the first phase of negotiations to speedily move on to issues such as trade, transport, customs, and transitional arrangements, without which industry faces a cliff edge.
“The clock is ticking and we urgently need agreement on the first phase of negotiations so we can move on to crucial issues such as trade, transport, and the establishment of a transition period to allow businesses and authorities alike to adapt,” said Pauline Bastidon, FTA’s head of European policy. “If time runs out and this is not discussed, there will be dramatic and potentially disastrous consequences. Without resolution of these issues, we could face restrictions to international freight transport, delays at the borders and disruptions to supply chains. We must urgently start discussing concrete solutions to ensure that trade movements are not impeded.”
Other key issues for FTA are citizens’ rights and the Irish border. For FTA members, it is crucial
to protect the rights of citizens so that industry can retain access to the workers it needs. The UK logistics industry relies on EU workers: 13 percent of drivers and 26 percent of warehouse operatives are EU nationals.
“Finding rapid and clear solutions for them is essential, as every month of prolonged uncertainty has a negative impact on our members,” said Bastidon.
On Ireland, FTA is urging negotiators to find ambitious and innovative solutions to prevent the return of a hard border.
“Supply chains are interlinked, and our members in Northern Ireland cross the border up to 30 or 40 times a day in some cases,” she said. “We therefore need specific arrangements for Ireland.
FTA is regularly consulting its members on Brexit and has created a manifesto outlining its key concerns.
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