Scots hauliers fear no-deal Brexit will freeze them out of EU, Minister warns

Scottish hauliers lack adequate permits to operate in the EU following a no deal Brexit, the Transport Secretary has warned.

Michael Matheson said major exporters have contacted the Scottish Government saying they have not got any permits and are worried about how they will continue to do business in Europe.

He has written to the UK Government seeking reassurance on the long-term arrangements to allow hauliers from Scotland to transport goods to and from the EU following if the UK leaves without a deal.

The UK Government said it is “confident” hauliers will not need permits to continue operating in the EU.

Mr Matheson said: “The Scottish Government is clear that it is in Scotland’s best interest to remain in the EU, however as a responsible government we have to plan for all scenarios and that includes a no-deal Brexit which would have a damaging impact across our economy.

“Scotland’s hauliers and their customers are extremely concerned. Scottish Ministers are being contacted by businesses, including major exporters, who have not been able to obtain a single permit and are worried about how they will be able to continue to do business in the EU.

“In addition, no bilateral agreements have been signed with EU member states, and no additional information has been publicly shared by the UK Government on whether these agreements can even be in place by March 29.

“Our hauliers are aware that the EU is taking action which would allow them to move goods in EU countries until December 2019, but that is providing that the UK reciprocates. The EU proposal has yet to be formally adopted leading to even more uncertainty.

“The UK Government has to provide urgent advice on how, and when, it will address the very real concerns of our hauliers, their customers and their employees, to allow the industry to plan adequately and ensure its long-term future.”

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “We are confident we will secure a relationship with the EU that maintains the liberalised access the UK currently enjoys, without hauliers needing an ECMT permit to continue operating in the EU.

“In the event of a no-deal, the commission has put forward proposals ensuring hauliers can continue carrying goods into the EU for the rest of 2019. They were agreed by the ambassadors of member states on Friday at the Council’s Permanent Representatives Committee and are due to be adopted by European Parliament and council later this month.”