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Brexit

New-style UK driving licences and number plates unveiled

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

UK driving licences and number plates have been given a makeover to mark the UK’s exit from the EU.

The EU flag has been removed from all UK driving licences and number plate designs, with the first batches issued from 1 January 2021.

While existing licences and number plates will still be valid, the new versions will be issued to everyone renewing a licence or getting one for the first time.

The new designs coincide with the beginning of a number of agreements recently made between the UK and member states for British drivers, which the government says make it easier for Britons to drive in the EU when existing restrictions end.

UK drivers who hold photocard licences will not need an international driving permit to drive in any of the 27 EU member states, Iceland, Norway, Switzerland or Liechtenstein. UK drivers won’t need to display a GB sticker in most EU countries if their number plate has GB or GB with a Union Flag on it.

Although national restrictions are still in place, and people should not be travelling internationally unless for work or other legally permitted reasons, these new arrangements mean that Britons can easily drive in the EU for years to come

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: “Changing the designs of our driving licences and number plates is a historic moment for British motorists, and a reassertion of our independence from the EU one year on from our departure.

“Looking to the future, whether it’s for work or for holidays abroad, these changes mean that those who want to drive in the EU can continue to do so with ease.”

EU automotive leaders unite against ‘no deal’ Brexit

960 640 Stuart O'Brien

The European automotive industry has made a united call for the UK and the EU to avoid a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

The joint move comes from the lead organisations representing vehicle and parts manufacturers across the EU, including the European Automobile Manufacturers Association (ACEA) and European Association of Automotive Suppliers (CLEPA), as well as 21 national associations, including the Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers (CCFA), the German Association of the Automotive Industry (VDA), and the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

In a statement, the bodies stressed that the automotive industry is one of the EU’s biggest success stories and contributors to growth and wealth, producing 19.1 million vehicles a year and employing 13.8 million people across the wider sector – one in 16 of the EU’s workforce.

Fundamental to this, they state, has been the deeply integrated nature of the industry, which has sought to maximise single market and customs union benefits to the advantage of businesses EU-wide.

As such, industry chiefs today warned that the repercussions of ‘no deal’ to this vital sector will be severe. They say UK’s departure from the EU without a deal would trigger a seismic shift in trading conditions, with billions of Euros of tariffs threatening to impact consumer choice and affordability on both sides of the Channel.

The end of barrier-free trade could bring harmful disruption to the industry’s just-in-time operating model, with the cost of just one minute of production stoppage in the UK alone amounting to €54,700 (£50,000). 

Meanwhile, WTO tariffs on cars and vans could add €5.7 billion (£5 billion) to the collective EU-UK auto trade bill, raising prices for customers if manufacturers cannot absorb the additional cost.

Automotive manufacturers believe that such disruption and cost must be avoided, and that all effort should be made to deliver an orderly withdrawal of the UK from the EU.

Christian Peugeot, CCFA President, said: “Brexit is not just a British problem, we are all concerned in the European automotive industry, and even further. Be it as exporters to the UK market or producers locally, which we are both, we will inevitably be negatively affected.”

Bernhard Mattes, VDA President, said: “We regret Brexit. The United Kingdom is a fully integrated player in the value chain of the German Automotive Industry. More than 100 production facilities as well as research and development located in the UK prove our commitment to the UK-market as a number one market in the EU. In the view of the German automotive industry, therefore, everything has to be done to maintain the free movement of goods, of services, the freedom of capital and the freedom of movement for workers between the UK and the EU. At the same time, we acknowledge that the internal market and the cohesion of EU27 are a priority and a pre-condition.The EU and UK automotive industry need frictionless trade and would be harmed significantly by additional duties and administrative burden on automotive parts and vehicles. Consequently, the UK and the EU should undertake all necessary steps to avoid a no-deal Brexit.”

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said: “European Automotive is deeply integrated and the benefits of free and frictionless trade have helped our sector become one of Europe’s most valuable assets, delivering billions to economies and supporting millions of livelihoods across the EU. A ‘no deal’ Brexit would have an immediate and devastating impact on the industry, undermining competitiveness and causing irreversible and severe damage. UK and EU negotiators have a responsibility to work together to agree a deal or risk destroying this vital pillar of our economies.”

The 23 Automotive Association signatories include:

  • ACAROM – Romanian Association of Automobile Builders https://acarom.ro
  • ACEA – European Automobile Manufacturers Association www.acea.be
  • AFIA – Portuguese Manufacturers Association for the Automotive Industry www.afia.pt
  • AIA – Czech Automotive Industry Association www.autosap.cz
  • ANFAC – Spanish Association of Car and Truck Manufacturers www.anfac.com
  • ANFIA – Italian Association of the Automobile Industry www.anfia.it
  • AUTIG – Danish Automotive Trade & Industry Federation www.autig.dk
  • BIL SWEDEN – Swedish Association of Automobile Manufacturers and Importers www.bilsweden.se
  • CCFA – Committee of French Automobile Manufacturers www.ccfa.fr
  • CLEPA – European Association of Automotive Suppliers www.clepa.eu
  • FEBIAC – Belgian Federation of Automobile and Motorcycle Industries www.febiac.be
  • FIEV – French Federation of Vehicle Equipment Industries www.fiev.fr
  • FKG – Scandinavian Automotive Supplier Association https://fkg.se
  • FFOE – Austrian Association of the Automotive Industry www.fahrzeugindustrie.at
  • ILEA – Luxembourg Automotive Suppliers Association https://www.ilea.lu/
  • OSD – Turkish Automotive Manufacturers Association www.osd.org.tr
  • PFA – French Association of the Automotive Industry www.pfa-auto.fr/
  • SDCM – Polish Association of Automotive Parts Distributors and Producers www.sdcm.pl
  • RAI – Dutch Association for Mobility Industry https://raivereniging.nl
  • SMMT – Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders www.smmt.co.uk
  • SERNAUTO – Spanish Association of Automotive Suppliers http://www.sernauto.es
  • TAYSAD – Automotive Suppliers Association of Turkey www.taysad.org.tr
  • VDA – German Association of the Automotive Industry www.vda.de