London - Britain said on Tuesday it was willing to allow European truck drivers to enter the country without a permit in the event of a chaotic no-deal Brexit, and hoped Brussels would show similar flexibility in return.
The logistics industry has said that drivers could be prevented from crossing the channel unless they have one of a limited number of permits if Britain leaves the bloc on March 29 without a new trading framework. But the government said on Tuesday it proposed allowing drivers from the other EU 27 markets to enter Britain to guarantee that supply chains are protected.
The trucking industry moves about 420 billion pounds ($544 billion) of goods between Britain and Europe each year to support manufacturers and retailers, with more than 80 percent moved by EU trucks.
“The UK needs to be sure that foreign products can be imported and UK products exported as usual,” the government said in a statement to parliament. “Our approach of offering access at this stage aims both to provide the reassurance needed for international freight flows to continue, and also to help ensure reciprocal arrangements for UK hauliers.”
The EU has so far offered British truckers the right to drive to, from and through the EU for nine months after the exit, in the event of a no-deal. Britain said its offer was more liberal and added that it was in discussion with the EU Commission to see if the bloc would extend its offer.
In parallel, Britain said France was progressing with a unilateral measure to provide wider access to British haulers in the event of no deal. The industry has also been worried that the introduction of customs checks at major ports such as Dover could clog up the roads, damaging supply chains and trade.