The ‘plan B’ of carriers trapped in the United Kingdom: return with the truck by ferry

Professional associations ask the Government to act now in the face of the abandonment of thousands of drivers in France and the United Kingdom.

Image of one of the roads collapsed by trucks.

The main routes of entry and exit for the transport of goods between France and the United Kingdom have been closed in both directions since Sunday night for fear of the new strain of Covid-19 that has been detected in the British country.

This collapse has left hundreds of carriers stranded in both countries not knowing if they will be able to deliver their goods and return home. Faced with this situation, the president of the International Road Transport Association (Astic), Ramón Valdivia, recommends that those who have to make the trip to the United Kingdom “be prepared with a route Bback to the mainland via Spanish ports or via Dutch ports if there are free seats on the ferries that cover these routes between Great Britain and said countries”.

First of all, Astic claims, “The first thing is to take extreme self-protection measures that are already being practiced if there is no other choice but to make the trip (for example because the merchandise is perishable, let us remember that we are in the middle of the fruit and vegetable export campaign)”.

In the same way, he denounces that “they are supposed to be trying to find joint positions in the EU since Monday morning, but each country is acting alone and, in our case, with little clarity of approach”. “We don’t really know what to expect,” Ramon Valdivia lamented to Invertia.

You have to act now

In any case, denounces Astic, “what that should take precedence over all, from the public powers, is to keep in mind that professionals stuck for hours on the road are people who are doing their duty for the good of the whole society.”

“They deserve adequate attention because it is not acceptable that they be applauded when they comply and that they are not taken into consideration when it comes to providing them with food, drink or services, not to mention police protection against the illegal immigration trafficking mafias that operate on the continental side”, assures the association.

The Spanish Freight Transport Confederation (CETM) has asked the Government to act urgently to ensure that Spanish carriers trapped in France and the United Kingdom return home.

In a letter sent to the head of Transport, Mobility and Urban Agenda, José Luis Ábalos, by the president of CETM, Ovid de la Roza, calls for the “unconditional” support of the Government, which must carry out “all the necessary diplomatic actions” with France and the United Kingdom, in addition to seeking “urgent, harmonized and consensual” solutions within the European Union (EU).

The foreign message

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation is working with the United Kingdom and France to facilitate the return of carriers and Spanish citizens affected by the temporary closure of the border with France as soon as possible, as announced on the afternoon of this Tuesday.

In a statement, the Ministry explained that the Embassy of Spain in London is “in constant communication” with the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office and the UK Department of Transport. “The Brexit Single Window of the Embassy and the Consulates in the United Kingdom continue to provide assistance and information to Spanish citizens who require it, among other aspects in relation to passenger and lorry traffic in the English Channel”, has pointed out.
For its part, the Embassy of Spain in France points out that the French government maintains, at this time, its intention to reopen land and sea traffic at midnight, today Tuesday 22, with the performance of PCR or antigen tests on drivers and passengers.
In this sense, the official statement has ended, “the possibility that the restrictions on truck traffic in the English Channel are partially lifted at the end of today’s session (by Tuesday) would allow, if confirmed, to go recovering little by little from tomorrow (for today Wednesday) normality in the movement of goods between the United Kingdom and continental Europe.

millionaire business

If this continues, explains Ramón Valdivia, “we are in danger that (as some large European road transport company has already announced) we will end up not covering those routes at any price”. In that case, calculates the president of Astic, “it will be put in endangers a commercial relationship of 100 million daily, between exports from Spain to the United Kingdomand Spanish imports from that country, which also come by truck; truck that belongs to a Spanish transport company in more than 90% of the cases”.

At member companies of this organization, Ramón Valdivia has indicated, “the traffic jams are causing losses of about 2.5 million euros per day only in billing, to which we must add the opportunity costs of having part of the fleet and its workforce blocked in those endless waits to cross the Channel”.

Chaos accelerated by Brexit

The root of all this problem that has exploded in recent weeks lies in the failure of the negotiations for the United Kingdom to leave the European Union. “Exporters continue to receive the UK orders at exaggerated levels due to the rush to avoid the imposition of tariffs that will occur on January 1,” says Ramón Valdivia.

The closer the date of receipt to the end of the year, the more valuable the price difference between before and after tariffs, since the costs derived from overstocking will be lower. Therefore, explains the president of Astic, “the ideal thing for a British importer would be to receive all the merchandise that they will need during the first months of 2021 in advance in 2020 as close as possible to the last minute.”

What is clear, explains the person in charge of this association, is that the Brexit will entail “a cost for our sector in terms of lower volumes of trade due to the increase in the price of the products that reach the hands of the British consumer”.

Although he warns that “all this could remain almost anecdotal if, as some predict, an even greater drop in currency exchange were to take place and paying in sterling for something produced in the euro countries began to be prohibitive for the average British consumer”.

“Obviously, other origins of merchandise from more or less distant countries would thus become much more important in the internal consumption of the United Kingdom with the consequent decrease in volume that our trucks would be carrying from Spain to there,” concludes Ramón Valdivia.