REUL Bill leaves UK supply chain at risk, says Logistics UK

Tuesday 02 May 2023

Business group Logistics UK has raised concerns about the government’s proposed Retained EU Law (REUL) Bill, which is currently making its way through Parliament, and the risks which its adoption will pose to UK businesses and the nation’s supply chain.

In a letter to PM Rishi Sunak, Logistics UK’s Chief Executive David Wells OBE has highlighted the industry’s concerns about the Bill, which is due to be implemented from December 2023: the cost and potential scale of the changes which will impact businesses trading across the UK’s borders, the risk of creating trade barriers which could impede the movement of goods and slow the UK’s economy, and the risk of unintended consequences, caused by a lack of oversight thanks to the pace at which regulatory changes could be applied.

“Britain’s logistics businesses keep the UK trading and are driving the country’s economic recovery by reinforcing existing trading relationships and establishing new ones. But with at least 4,000 EU laws across around 500 policy areas affected by the REUL Bill, the impact of its implementation will be significant.

“Our members operate on very narrow margins, and have already absorbed significant costs as a result of the UK’s departure from the EU. Coupled with the ongoing uncertainty over what legislation will be retained, removed or improved, and how those changes will need to be implemented and when, it is clear that logistics businesses are increasingly concerned about the scale of the task ahead.”

As Wells continues, logistics businesses have already had to adapt to significant changes in the past few years, prompted by both the pandemic and also the UK’s departure from the EU:

“Logistics is, by its very nature, flexible and adaptable, but implementing new trading processes and adapting to new regulatory conditions will take time and money. The lack of clarity over what will need to change, and by when, is causing great uncertainty across our industry, a sector which is at the heart of all trading relationships both domestically and internationally.

“Trade benefits from smooth border processes, simple procedures and fewer regulatory differences for logistics workers or vehicles. Any changes need to deliver clear benefits, manage the scale of change effectively and recognise the  attendant costs and time required to implement and bed down new systems and processes – assuming the necessary IT solutions are available.”

Wells is keen for the government to take a considered, measurable approach to the process, so that both industry relationships and overseas trading connections can be protected:

“It is vital that the approach taken is careful and considered and that we do not rush through changes which duplicate effort or disadvantage our sector, and the UK’s consumers. We need a clear timeline for the changes which will be required to protect the UK’s highly-interconnected supply chain, while minimising unnecessary change and delivering clear, positive benefits to UK PLC.

“Logistics UK and its members remain committed to keeping the UK’s trading relationships open and effective, but need the assistance of government to ensure that industry has full insight of the plans being considered, and a meaningful feedback process which will enable discussion and debate.  Our priority must be to ensure goods continue to move smoothly across the UK’s borders for the benefit of consumers and business.”

Logistics UK is one of the UK’s leading business groups, representing logistics businesses which are vital to keeping the UK trading, and more than seven million people directly employed in the making, selling and moving of goods. With COVID-19, Brexit, new technology and other disruptive forces driving change in the way goods move across borders and through the supply chain, logistics has never been more important to UK plc. Logistics UK supports, shapes and stands up for safe and efficient logistics, and is the only business group which represents the whole industry, with members from the road, rail, sea and air industries, as well as the buyers of freight services such as retailers and manufacturers whose businesses depend on the efficient movement of goods.