IDid the passengers stranded in the Port of Dover over the Easter weekend have a sense of humour? For this large departure on holiday, huge delays were reported, some coaches of up to two hours. Was Brexit responsible, at least in part? There is nothing to be done, categorically confirmed Suella Braverman, the British Home Secretary, an ardent supporter of leaving the European Union (EU): “I don’t think it’s fair to say that this is a negative effect of Brexit. »
However, the port of Dover was clear: it was to blame “Long checks at the French border”. However, although the UK has never been part of the Schengen area and passport control has always been necessary, it is now more difficult than before. With Brexit, you need to check that travelers have not spent more than ninety days in the EU in the last six months (beyond that a visa is required), then get their passports stamped. That’s a handful of seconds more per passenger, which translates into a headache during rush hour.
An Easter weekend anecdote reveals a deeper problem: since Brexit, passenger traffic between the UK and the EU is at half-mast. Divorce from the European Union, beyond its commercial and geopolitical consequences, also affects the distancing of the population.
The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Single Market dates from 1Eh January 2021. For a long time, the pandemic made it very difficult to analyze the situation. Passengers stopped traveling, mostly due to health restrictions. This is no longer the case. However, the decline in trade is confirmed. The number of passenger cars at the Port of Calais was down by 35% at the end of March compared to 2018 (last year was not affected by Brexit, which was originally scheduled for 31 March 2019). The number of private cars passing through the channel tunnel, on the other hand, has decreased by 20% in the first quarter compared to 2018; For Eurostar, the decline is 7%.
There is no time to control everyone
It’s true that global air travel hasn’t returned to pre-Covid-19 either. Eurotunnel operator Getlink recorded its best Easter weekend attendance since 2018. Summer bookings are also encouraged. But the effect of Brexit is hard to ignore.
New automatic passport-reading terminals have been installed at London’s St Pancras station, where the Eurostar terminal is closed, but only after a border police officer is forced to stamp passports one by one. It is no longer a question of arriving thirty minutes before departure, it is better to count one hour. This slowdown forces Eurostar to voluntarily leave a third of its early morning trains empty: there simply isn’t enough time to check everyone. “We have 14 round trips between London and Paris a day, compared to 16 to 18 in 2019.– said the press spokesman.
Source: Le Monde