In the supermarket there are gaps on the shelves, dairy farmers are left sitting on their milk, there are no mattresses at Ikea and there is a lack of important chemicals in sewage treatment plants.

There is hardly an industry that is not complaining in Great Britain these days.

The reason is almost always the same: There is a lack of people who can get things from A to B.

These are usually people who drive trucks.

According to the Road Haulage Association, the UK is currently short of around 100,000 of them.

As is so often the case, this is also due to Brexit and its consequences.

In addition, the corona pandemic has exacerbated the situation.

But experts do not expect the island to be left alone with the problem.

“What is happening in the UK has been accelerated by Brexit.

However, I firmly assume that we will have the same situation in Western Europe, only a little bit later, ”says Dirk Engelhardt from the Federal Association of Freight Transport, Logistics and Waste Management.

"We warn against the fact that we will face a supply collapse in Western Europe as well."

In Germany, too, there was already a shortage of 60,000 to 80,000 truck drivers, according to Engelhardt - and the trend is rising.

Every year around 30,000 drivers retire and only around 15,000 young people are coming.

"There is a worldwide need for drivers."

"We need a new perception of the profession"

The shortage has a lot to do with the fact that the job of truck driver is perceived less and less as attractive. Long waiting times in traffic jams, it is difficult to reconcile family and work and a great lack of suitable parking spaces where you can safely stand or shower and eat. In addition, trucks are perceived as large, noisy polluters who do not feed other road users, but rather disturb them. “The drivers are worried about the bad image. We need a new perception of the profession, ”says Engelhardt.

While the driver shortage in Germany still goes unnoticed in many places, in the United Kingdom it is already evident when shopping at the supermarket. There are always bottlenecks in various products and there are unusually large gaps on the shelves. The BBC interviewed a dairy farmer who was on the verge of throwing away thousands of liters of milk because they were not being picked up as usual. The "Guardian" reported on sewage treatment plants that cannot carry out certain processes because they lack the appropriate chemicals. The first supermarkets are expecting price increases if things continue like this - and there is no improvement in sight for the time being.

During the pandemic, many European drivers, for example from Poland or Romania, left the UK and returned to their families in their home countries. There are several reasons why many of them will not return. On the one hand, the free movement of EU workers has been a thing of the past since Brexit, and complex and expensive visa procedures are necessary. At the same time, however, drivers are also needed in many other European countries, so that the attraction of Great Britain is waning. New trade barriers and controls at the border make the situation even more difficult.

The Road Haulage Association is calling for easier visa rules for foreign workers. Dirk Engelhardt from the German industry association is skeptical that this will solve the problem. With a view to Germany, he advocates the approval of longer trucks in which drivers with integrated sanitary facilities and better equipment can spend their rest periods more independently. Otherwise Engelhardt sees it as black: "Hamster purchases like at the beginning of the corona pandemic could become daily business if countermeasures are not taken quickly."

Keywords: