The European Union (EU) Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier has criticised the UK Government for refusing to accept EU rules on working time and digital tachographs for UK trucks driving in EU Member States. He was speaking following the latest Brexit negotiations round earlier this month.
Mr Barnier said allowing UK drivers to follow different rules would undermine the single market and be unfair to EU Member States. He underlined that the rules were important for road safety.
However, the Road Haulage Association (RHA) in Britain sees Brussels’ reaction to UK truck drivers’ access to the EU as short sighted. The RHA is deeply concerned at the continuing refusal from Brussels to grant British truck drivers the access to Europe they need to keep the UK supply chain moving.
Not allowing them the same access rights that the UK is willing to negotiate with the EU will severely damage businesses on both sides of the Channel.
Commenting RHA chief executive, Richard Burnett said: “The UK Government is trying to provide symmetry but in terms of market access the EU’s position is far more damaging because of the balance, or imbalance, of trade. 85% of the volume of goods that come into the UK is moved by European hauliers – UK operators are responsible for the movement of only 15%. The Government approach is to try and negotiate access to the EU while trying to maintain symmetry, but the EU’s current decision puts them at a disadvantage. Maintaining the supply chain between the Great Britain and the rest of Europe can only be achieved on a level playing field. The UK is taking a liberal view – suggesting that cabotage remains on the table. But symmetry works both ways. If the EU remains adamant to remove cabotage, the UK will have no choice but to follow suit. If this is the outcome then the intransigence of the EU means that they will be shooting themselves in the foot.”