Europe braces for empty shelves as VDL warned she cannot blame shortages on Brexit

Lorry driver shortage will benefit UK in long term says Ros Atkins

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A senior MEP has criticised the European Commission for introducing swathes of regulations that have stifled the logistics industry over the years. The rant comes after an apparent fuel crisis and lack of truckers in Britain was largely blamed on its departure from the single market. But now details of similar shortages in European countries have started to emerge, including in Ireland, Belgium and Germany.

Romanian MEP Cristian Terhes told “The shortage of truck drivers was an issue all across Europe acknowledged even by the European Commission in a report from 2014.

“One of the causes of this shortage, as many driver’s associations have said, is that this field is hyper regulated.

“The previous and current European Commission, instead of removing the absurd regulations in order to allow this field to grow, have actually increased the regulations, damaging this field even worse.”

Recently published analysis showed that mainland Europe is experiencing a shortfall of around 400,000 lorry drivers.

France has faced a shortage of about 43,000 drivers since 2019.

And Germany was missing between 45,000 and 60,000 HGV drivers last year.

The shortfall in Italy was estimated to be around 15,000, according to research by Transport Intelligence.

Whereas, the lorry driver shortage in Ireland has been declared an “imminent national emergency”.

Eugene Drennan, president of the Irish Road Haulage Association, said Ireland’s shortage, which is estimated to be between 3,000 and 4,000 drivers, is as grave as the British shortfall.

He predicted it could cause similar supply chain shortages, such as empty supermarket shelves or petrol stations without fuel, if it is not addressed.

In Belgium there has been warning of supermarket shortages if 5,000 lorry drivers aren’t recruited.

Febetra, the federation of Belgian transport and logistics service providers, pointed at similar shortages to Britain.

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“If we want the shop shelves to remain filled in the future, then extra drivers are urgently needed,” Isabelle De Maegt of Febetra said.

She added: “Without truck drivers, the world stops turning and we do not realise that enough.

“Without them, shelves in supermarkets and shops remain empty, all construction sites at at a standstill and factories stop running.”

Supermarket shelves are currently running dry in Brussels because of a strike at the Logistics Nivelles distribution centre at the start of the week.

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Lorry driver shortages discussed by political activist

In Britain there has been shortages of goods, from milkshakes to building materials, as well as a recent shortage of fuel at the pumps because of the lack of drivers to transport it from refineries.

The UK has been said to have a shortfall of some 100,000 HGV drivers, and ministers have warned that shortages at petrol stations may persist for another “week or so”.

Policing minister Kit Malthouse said: “We are still seeing strong demand in parts of the country around fuel, albeit that there is no problem of supply into the country. The distribution mechanism is trying to respond to this unprecedented demand.

“My latest briefing is that the situation is stabilising, that we are seeing more forecourts with a greater supply of fuel and hopefully that, as demand and supply come better into balance over the next few days – week or so – that we will see a return to normality.

“I think if things started to deteriorate further, obviously the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Energy, whose responsibility this is, will have to review the situation.

“What we need to see is a stabilisation and improvement over the next few days. Obviously there only so many tankers that can be used to get this fuel around.

“They are trying their best to get around as fast as possible. There is co-ordination now across the country looking at where there are pockets of supply problems and demand strength and trying to bring the two into balance.”

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