The United Kingdom and European Union share a problem. Neither have enough truckers available to make deliveries. The two former partners are now bitterly competing for drivers as shortages are at risk of worsening. 

A shortage of truck drivers in the U.K. has already begun to take its toll. A concurrent fuel crisis has been exasperated by an inability to find drivers to bring fuel to British markets, prompting the military to step in to make the deliveries. London is also offering a short-term visa scheme to allow foreign truckers to work in the country until Christmas Eve, enticed by the prospect of high salaries. 

The E.U. also has its concerns that it will not have enough truckers in the near future. Today, E.U. members are also in search of truck drivers, with members like Germany and Poland having a comparable shortage to the U.K. In some cases, members are similarly looking outside the bloc to make up for the shortage by inviting truckers from places like Ukraine to come and work for them. 

Reasons for the shortage of drivers are numerous, but in the U.K.’s case, the most readily blamed cause is Brexit. Britain's exit from the E.U. concluded in January 2020, making it more difficult for truckers from Europe to continue working there. Many who resided in the U.K. were from Central and Eastern Europe, but the onset of COVID-19 and the bureaucratic burdens of post-Brexit Britain led many to return home. 

E.U. labor and political leaders cite Brexit as the proximate cause of the U.K.’s woes today and they have declined to offer London any reprieve. However, there were structural problems in the trucking industry that affect both the E.U. and U.K. Industry leaders and experts each warned that Europe’s transportation as a whole was losing workers for years. 

Rising fuel costs, bureaucratic inefficiencies, an aging workforce with few new recruits in line to replace them, and a reputation for poor working conditions have all taken a toll on the U.K.’s industry, Transport Intelligence CEO John Manner-Bell said in an editorial, cited by CNBC. 

The E.U. shares this same set of problems. Union leaders warned Politico that the same poor working conditions on top of a shrinking pool of applicants within the E.U. could mean it can face a similar set of crises that are being seen in the U.K. down the line.