August 6, 2021
Following the final separation of Great Britain from the European Union block, free movement of people and the ability for EU workers to arrive into the UK and work was restricted.
Up until this point, the UK relied on large numbers of EU workers to help fill a gap in the driver market, however, when the Coronavirus pandemic struck it created a perfect storm and added to the long running driver shortage problem, halting the testing of new drivers on top of a highly regulated industry with many EU workers returning to their home countries.
The British government agreed to a change in drivers hours regulations that extended the number of hours a worker can legally drive in a day, which received criticism from industry associations and has done very little to address the overriding problem along with calls to extend the Temporary Worker scheme applicable to farm workers to include qualified truck drivers.
Many retail outlets are now experiencing supply shortages as delivery lead times are extended.
In March 2021, the European Union commenced legal action against the UK for alleged breaches of the Northern Ireland Protocol, which was put into place to ensure that the free movement of people, services and goods between the Republic of Ireland and the North would not be interrupted and preserved the Good Friday Agreement that maintains peace in the region.
The cessation of legal action was a result of the UK submitting new proposals to the European Commission along with a request for a period of standstill. The EU have maintained that the deal cannot be re-negotiated.
The European Union (EU) had previously proposed a set of simplifications in order to break the deadlock, however, at the time, the UK had said that these measures do not go far enough. New talks between the two parties will go ahead in the next few weeks.