FTA Ireland (FTAI) says the Irish Government’s newly-published Brexit report does not go far enough to support the country’s road freight sector and help maintain frictionless trade between Ireland and the rest of the UK and Europe.
The Association gave evidence to the Seanad Select Committee in June, when General Manager Aidan Flynn highlighted the importance of the nation’s supply chain and its contribution to the country’s economy. Mr Flynn told the committee that a smooth Brexit transition was vital and free movement across the land border with the UK must be retained.
The committee’s report, contains more than 100 recommendations but Mr Flynn says it fails to acknowledge the Association’s key ‘asks’ including the appointment of a dedicated Brexit minister, investment in training and relaxation of customs rules to allow free movement of vehicles to the UK and on to Europe.
Mr Flynn said: “While FTA Ireland welcomes this report, it is clear that our submission to the committee has not been fully recognised and road freight has not been afforded the priority it requires to ensure trade is not compromised.
“It is obvious from the report that the number and complexity of issues facing trade and service providers into and out of the UK is incredible. To ensure that it does not overwhelm industry, action must now be taken to ensure that the impact of Brexit is managed in a controlled and pragmatic way. FTA Ireland has long advocated joined-up thinking between the industry, education sector and all stakeholders to establish a consensus solution that is in the best interest of Ireland and its trade.”
Having reviewed the report, FTA Ireland is urging the government to adopt several key measures to ensure the Brexit process is effectively managed:
Appointment of a dedicated minister for Brexit & the supply chain – this will aid a co-ordinated approach to working with key stakeholders in determining the issues and preparing solutions at both EU & local government level
Swift and comprehensive engagement with the education sector, particularly business and supply chain colleges that can help view the situation from an academic perspective and identify opportunities to improve supply chain logistics.
For seamless and frictionless trade between the Republic and Northern Ireland, and to and from Britain, solutions must be agreed that are workable and technologically neutral to ensure the entire supply chain can engage. Some links in the chain are more advanced than others, and FTAI is insistent that time must be given to ensuring changes can be made
Transition – It is critical for businesses to have a smooth transition in place towards what is likely to be a very different regulatory and trade environment, and sufficient time and notice must be given to ensure that this process can be facilitated.
A viable customs solution would be for the supply chain at all levels to enter an Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) simplified programme. This is currently a requirement for trading with ‘third’ countries. FTA Ireland is calling on the Government to relax the rules and allow operators to apply for AEO now in advance of the UK becoming a third country. This solution is also being touted in the UK to allow a seamless recognition. In addition, once the UK has left the EU, Ireland must invite the UK to join the Common Transport Convention to allow Irish operators to seamlessly transit the UK land bridge to access the EU market under seal
To develop the new skills that will be required to deal with Brexit it is important that there is increased funding to support more progressive and fair enforcement at national and EU levels
Skillnets funding should be made available to aid the education and upskilling requirements of the transport and logistics sector. This should be complemented with support from Government recognising the training outcomes and continual professional development of transport managers by introducing mandatory periodic Transport Manager Certificate of Professional Competence training