French of­fi­cials dis­miss UK fears of Calais ‘go-slow’

The Malta Business Weekly - - INTERNATIONAL -

French of­fi­cials have re­jected sug­ges­tions they could re­sort to a "goslow" pol­icy at the port of Calais if there is no Brexit deal.

The UK's Brexit Sec­re­tary Do­minic Raab warned on Thurs­day of ma­jor dis­rup­tion in a "worse case sce­nario", which might force firms to use other ports.

But Xavier Bertrand, pres­i­dent of the Hauts-de-France re­gion, said en­sur­ing "flu­id­ity" of trade was es­sen­tial.

An­other of­fi­cial said clos­ing Calais would be an "eco­nomic sui­cide mis­sion".

There has been wide­spread con­cern about the im­pact of longer bor­der checks at Calais if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019 with­out a deal.

Trans­port Sec­re­tary Chris Grayling met the mayor of Calais, Nat­acha Bouchart, on Thurs­day to dis­cuss French and Bri­tish prepa­ra­tions for such an even­tu­al­ity amid claims that busi­nesses may be forced to use Dutch and Bel­gian ports in­stead to trans­port goods.

Re­spond­ing to a ques­tion in the House of Com­mons about no-deal plan­ning on Thurs­day, Mr Raab ap­peared to sug­gest the French could choose to cre­ate ad­di­tional de­lays.

"We also need to pre­pare for the worst case sce­nario where the au­thor­i­ties at Calais are de­lib­er­ately di­rect­ing a go-slow ap­proach by sup­port­ing a di­ver­sion of the flow to more amenable ports in other coun­tries," he said.

Re­spond­ing on Twit­ter, Mr Bertrand said clos­ing the port of Calais or the Chan­nel Tun­nel to cross-chan­nel traf­fic in the event of a no-deal Brexit "was not en­vis­aged".

"Who could be­lieve such a thing? We have to do ev­ery­thing to guar­an­tee flu­id­ity," he wrote.

And Jean-Paul Mu­lot, who rep­re­sents Hauts-de-France, France's north­ern-most re­gion, in the UK said that while there might be de­lays if the event of a no-deal, it was in France's in­ter­est to min­imise these.

Brexit-back­ing MPs, in­clud­ing Dover's Char­lie El­ph­icke, have said talks of grid­lock at chan­nel ports are be­ing used po­lit­i­cally by op­po­nents of the UK leav­ing.

At present, the UK's mem­ber­ship of the EU sin­gle mar­ket and the cus­toms union al­lows for the free move­ment of goods, peo­ple and ser­vices around Eu­rope.

But the UK gov­ern­ment has said it is leav­ing both of these ar­range­ments as part of Brexit.

The UK and the EU are in ne­go­ti­a­tions on how their fi­nal re­la­tion­ship will work but have yet to reach a deal on key is­sues.

Both sides say they still want to agree a deal be­fore the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019, but are also mak­ing plans for what hap­pens with­out one.

This week the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice warned that queues and de­lays were likely at bor­der cross­ings un­der a no-deal Brexit, say­ing ex­porters did not have time to pre­pare for new rules.

A "tran­si­tion" pe­riod to cush­ion the UK's exit from the EU is planned to last un­til De­cem­ber 2020 - but this is de­pen­dent on the two sides reach­ing agree­ment on out­stand­ing is­sues like the Ir­ish bor­der.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Malta

© PressReader. All rights reserved.