Brexit: Stockpiling in UK causes delays at Calais border

Fears of no-deal Brexit cause stockpiling in the UK at unprecedented levels, and severe delays at the French border

4 December 2020
By Joanna York

An increase in traffic jams is causing severe delays at the Calais border, as people in the UK stockpile goods amid fears that a Brexit deal will not be agreed before the end of the month.

The transition period for the UK’s exit from the EU ends on January 1, 2021. If no deal is reached before then, customs tariffs will be reinstated between the UK and France in a matter of weeks. 

Poor traffic management 

Traffic jams are being caused by a high concentration of heavy goods vehicles at the border and what local transport organisation La Fédération Nationale des Transports Routiers has described as “terrible management” of traffic in the area.

Sébastien Rivéra, secretary-general of the group told news source BFMTV: “The plan for traffic management is not up to the job, and Brexit hasn’t even happened yet. It has been catastrophic for the past two weeks and it will be until the end of the year.” 

Particular issues have been reported at junctions leading to channel crossing services including ferries and the Channel tunnel.

 

Exceptional demand for goods

Mr Rivéra said people in the UK were “stocking up like never before” in advance of the January deadline. He said suppliers that had been transporting goods to the UK for the past 30 years “had never known such volumes” of deliveries to be made.

Figures from the prefecture confirmed that around 8,000 heavy goods vehicles are currently crossing the channel to transport goods every day. In normal circumstances, around 6,000 make the daily journey.

A similar rise in journeys was as also noted this time last year in the lead up to the start of the transition period, although numbers were smaller. 

France may veto Brexit deal 

Meanwhile France has warned that it may veto a Brexit deal if not deemed acceptable.

Minister for European Affairs, Clément Beaune, told news source Europe 1: “I want to believe that we can have an agreement and a good agreement. [But] if the agreement is not right, we will oppose it. Every country has the right to a veto.

“We owe that to people in France, to our fishermen and other economic sectors.”

Fishing agreements in the seas between France and the UK are a particular point of contention. Prime Minister Jean Castex has said he does not want to see the French fishing industry “sacrificed” under a Brexit agreement.

Negotiations continue as deadline approaches 

Negotiations to agree a deal are ongoing in London this week, with access for European fishermen in UK waters being a point of discussion.

If an agreement is not reached by the end of this month, the UK will trade with countries in the EU using terms specified by the World Trade Organisation from January.

This would be a significant change in current trading agreements and risk causing economic shock at a time when all countries have already been severely impacted by the Covid-19 health crisis.

Negotiations are continuing, and may dominate the European summit in Brussels from December 10-11, at which all 27 EU member states will be present.

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