Carthy welcomes progress on Transport Managers’ Brexit complications
Cavan Monaghan Sinn Féin TD, has welcomed progress secured to ease the burden facing Transport Managers in the face of Brexit.
Transport Managers, which every Road Haulier is obliged to have, must have a Certificate of Professional Competence (CPC). However, many of these certificates, especially issued to companies based in border counties such as Cavan and Monaghan, were issued in the north. The Department of Transport had previously indicated that in all of these cases a Transport Manager would be required to resit an examination and undo a new application for a CPC at considerable cost and bureaucracy.
However, the issue appears to have been resolved following the intervention of several border county Dáil Deputies, including Matt Carthy.
Last Thursday Deputy Carthy raised the issue in the Dáil alongside his Sinn Féin colleagues, Darren O’Rourke and Ruairi O’Mhurchada. The matter was also raised by Fine Gael’s Joe McHugh. In response on behalf of government Minister of State at the Department of Transport, Hildergarde Naughton confirmed that a new process would allow operators affected to transfer the northern based CPC for an Irish issued certificate. However, questions remain regarding the position of Transport Managers who reside in the north but work for operators in the south.
Transcript from Dáil Debate
Deputy Darren O’Rourke: I raised this issue previously with the Minister for Transport, Deputy Eamon Ryan. I look forward to hearing from the Minister of State, Deputy Hildegarde Naughton, on the matter. We are 36 days from Brexit. Regarding certificates of professional competence, CPCs, there is an element of bureaucracy here that needs to be straightened out. We will have the same people on 2 January as we have now, with the same qualifications and the same experience. They will be equally as competent. We need to do away with this bureaucracy.
The requirement for transport managers to be resident in the EU is blind to the Good Friday Agreement and the relationship with the North. It is a significant issue that needs to be resolved.
Deputy Matt Carthy: That this situation has been allowed to get to this last-minute point is deeply concerning. It is my view that the matter can be easily resolved with political will. What we need to ensure is that transport management CPCs that were issued in the North of Ireland or in Britain will be recognised post Brexit. In terms of the residency clause referred to by Deputy Darren O’Rourke, we need that to be amended to ensure that Irish citizens who happen to live in the North are recognised as being able to hold this position.
As a former MEP, it is my absolute belief that there will be clear willingness at European level to facilitate that. The Government just needs to make sure that it happens.
Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú: It has already been said that this issue is absolutely straightforward. We have been dealing with Brexit and we all realise there is no good Brexit for Ireland. We have looked at mitigation, which is what the withdrawal agreement and the Irish protocol are about. We hope that we will have them.
What we have here is hauliers who are currently operating with recognised CPC qualifications that will not be recognised post Brexit. We have to introduce sensible solutions and mitigations. We also need to deal with the residency issue. I put it to the Government that this issue needs to be dealt with as quickly as possible. Deputies referred to conversations they have had with other Ministers. Deputy McHugh and I raised this issue with the Minister of State at the Department of Foreign Affairs, Deputy Thomas Byrne, at the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs. The Government knows about the issue. We just need to ensure that a solution is provided for the people who require it for their livelihood.
Minister of State at the Department of Transport (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton):
I thank the Deputies for raising this matter. EU legislation sets out several requirements that must be satisfied in order to be eligible to hold a road transport operator licence, one of which is professional competence. In order to fulfil this requirement, every road transport undertaking in Ireland or, indeed, any other EU member state must have a nominated transport manager to effectively and continuously manage its transport activities. The transport manager must hold a certificate of professional competence in either road haulage or road passenger transport, depending on the nature of the operator’s business. This certificate must be issued by an EU member state and is ordinarily obtained by passing a written examination. As highlighted by the European Commission in 2018 and, more recently, in July of this year, after the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December, transport managers’ CPCs issued by an authority of the United Kingdom, including Northern Ireland, or a body authorised by the United Kingdom will no longer be valid in the EU.
As part of the Government’s Brexit preparations, the Department of Transport carried out a review and identified approximately 200 individuals with a UK-issued transport manager CPC who are currently nominated as transport manager for Irish road transport operators. The Department recently wrote to these transport managers and the relevant operators to ensure they are aware of the position as outlined by the European Commission.
There are steps that affected transport managers and operators can take to ensure they continue to be in compliance with the relevant EU legislation. Individuals who hold a UK-issued transport manager CPC and who wish to act, after the end of the Brexit transition period, as transport manager for a road transport operator based in the EU, including Ireland, will need to obtain a transport manager CPC issued by an EU member state. This affects UK-qualified transport managers working for Irish operators, but also those working for other operators based in other EU member states.
As outlined in the Department’s correspondence to those UK transport manager CPC holders who work as transport manager for Irish-based transport operators, the Department has communicated with the European Commission on this important issue. I am pleased to inform the House that the Commission yesterday evening indicated that before the end of the Brexit transition period we may issue a corresponding Irish transport manager CPC to those UK-qualified individuals working for Irish operators. This is extremely welcome news for those affected transport managers and operators as it means that the transport managers will not now be required to undertake an Irish exam in order to continue to work as transport manager for an Irish operator.
In light of this clarification received from the European Commission, my Department is now examining as a matter of urgency the arrangements that must be put in place in order to allow for the issuing of corresponding transport manager CPCs to affected individuals. A further communication will shortly be issued to affected transport managers and operators to inform them of this recent update from the European Commission and to outline what needs to be done in order to obtain an Irish transport manager CPC. We will advise impacted transport managers to apply before the end of the year to avail of these new arrangements, and will communicate this as soon as possible. It is important to note that those affected will not need to sit an exam to secure an Irish CPC.
Deputy Joe McHugh (Fine Gael): I do not know what to say. I am delighted. There is no doubt that the operators and hauliers who take their business really seriously and have many challenges ahead of them will be absolutely delighted with this news.
I thank the Minister of State for the follow-up. Obviously, Deputy Ó Murchú and I value the fact that the message put across the table yesterday at the meeting of the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs, of which we are both members, reached the ears of people in the European Commission. I am absolutely delighted and very much look forward to how this will work out with the Department of Transport.
Deputy Darren O’Rourke: The Minister of State provided a welcome update regarding one of the elements of this issue, namely, the CPC. I would like to hear from her regarding the requirement for transport managers to be resident in the EU. There is a specific Irish context in terms of the North, the Good Friday Agreement, and the way people live in one area but commute across the Border to work in another. That is an anomaly that still needs to be addressed. I have not heard anything from the Minister of State on that issue.
Deputy Matt Carthy: I was not aware that raising a Topical Issue matter could have such an impact. I certainly was not aware of the power of the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs. All of those are welcome. It is good news that those concerned will not have to sit a test. It is really important that the process the Minister of State is initiating is free of bureaucracy or a financial penalty or cost on those involved. Like Deputy Darren O’Rourke, I urge the Minister of State to ensure that Irish citizens who happen to live across the Border are not discommoded as a result of a decision which they completely opposed in the first place.
Bearing in mind that the majority of people in the North voted to remain in the European Union, it would be a travesty if they were discriminated against.
Deputy Ruairí Ó Murchú: I thank the Minister of State for her response. We also need an answer on the related issue of residency. Like Deputy McHugh, I obviously put this completely down to our interaction at the Joint Committee on European Union Affairs yesterday. The constituent of mine who approached me on this issue thanks the Minister of State and me, as well as Deputy McHugh for the small part he played in my game.
Deputy Hildegarde Naughton: I thank the Deputies for their contributions and for raising this issue. It is welcome news that will come as a relief to many transport managers around the country. On the EU residency requirement for transport managers, in accordance with Article 4 of Regulation (EC) 1071/2009, the transport manager for a road transport operator based in the EU must be resident in the EU.
That was communicated to the transport managers in that communication by the Department. As I stated, my Department is working very hard to communicate this news to transport managers and the fact that they will not need to sit the exam, which is very welcome in the run-up to Brexit at the end of the year.