Calais region president frustrated as EU moves to cut French ports from a post-Brexit trading route

Published: 07 August 2018

Calais region president frustrated as EU moves to cut French ports from a post-Brexit trading route
Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts de France area (which includes Calais, Boulogne and Dunkirk, as well as their respective ports) has pleaded that the commission reconsider plans to move goods via Belgium and the Netherlands instead of Northern France.

The plans were agreed by the European Commission last week, set to prevent Irish exports from being stalled with travel in/out of the UK if Britain continues on the current path, set to no longer be a part of EU routes following Brexit.

Michel Barnier, chief Brexit negotiator refused to accept the British PM’s suggestions and plans on customs. Barnier has often stated that frictionless trade is not possible if the UK decides to remain apart from the single market and customs union, even if a deal can be struck for UK-EU free trade.
This has also had an impact on ports in France, which could now lose billions of pounds in profit if the European Commission proceeds with plans to link the Ireland ports of Dublin and Cork to Europe via Belgiun ports: Zeebrugge and Antwerp as well as Rotterdam in the Netherlands.

The Commission are rumoured to be concerned about the congestion that would build in Northern France if customs checks are to be put in place following Brexit, which could also lead to action from the workers at ports in Northern France.

Mr Bertrand spoke with the Daily Telegraph on the matter, stating: “This is a scandalous and unacceptable decision. The risk of traffic jams if new customs checks are introduced after Brexit is the same for France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Why discriminate against our ports? The European Commission should review this and the French government should react.”

Firms that use Britain as a drop-off point have been re-evaluating routes for international trade for months.
The Government in France are under pressure to block these planned routes by the EU, considering the impact it would have to trade in the country. It would also mean the French Channel ports would no longer be able to receive extra funding from Brussels to upgrade and improve facilities due to the fact that they would no longer be linked to the European market, which could cause chaos at the ports for security while lacking the funds required.

The PM has refused any form of European Commission proposal which would keep Northern Ireland within the single market and customs union. This would mean a new border would be introduced in Ireland, if Britain’s plans for a free trade arrangement or technical border fall through.
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