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Does EU border truck driver traffic tell the whole story?

The number of HGV drivers in the UK fell by 53,000 in just four years, figures reveal.

Despite the concerns about post-Brexit delays at Dover, most truck drivers are border ready. Queues at the end of the transition period have largely been avoided, although the chaos at Dover over Christmas is hard to forget. Now, the only truck drivers being turned away at the border are those without a negative coronavirus test result.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps has described the movement of truck traffic between Dover and Calais as a “good flow”. He also stated there was “no evidence” of major hold ups at the border.

Speaking in front of the Commons Transport Select committee, Shapps said: “The latest information is nearly 6,000 trucks a day (moving in each direction between Dover and Calais), which is probably now about 1,000 under where you might expect it to be at this time of year.”

He continued by saying that it was hard to be certain what to expect moving forward. With so much concern about disruption, he explained, people were stockpiling. However, that disruption “hasn’t materialised” and there was “no evidence that traffic is not flowing”.

According to Shapps: “Goods are flowing, and flowing at near-normal levels, which, given the pandemic and everything else going on, it’s been miraculous.”

According to the figures, traffic in the last week of January was just 13% below the figure for the same week in 2020.

However, the amount of traffic crossing the border might not give an accurate indication about the volume of goods being moved. A number of trucks travelling from Britain to the EU are doing so empty.

Before Brexit, a third of trucks would return without goods. Today, estimates put that figure between 50% and 65%.

One reason could be the paperwork required for lorries entering the EU from the UK. According to figures from the Financial Times, just one in ten truck drivers have all the paperwork they needed to re-enter the bloc.

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