Friday, January 1st, 2021
After the final Brexit
Truck traffic in Calais is running smoothly
Since midnight, Great Britain is no longer part of the EU customs union and the internal market. Thanks to the recently agreed trade pact, there is no chaos between the island and France. The first 200 trucks are handled without any problems.
A push of a button and then the green light was given: The first trucks on their way to Great Britain after its exit from the EU internal market and the customs union were cleared in Calais in the north of France. The first vehicle to stop shortly after midnight was a van from Romania loaded with letters and parcels at the checkpoint. In addition to the usual security checks, a quick scan was necessary, then Calais’ mayor Natacha Bouchart pressed the button that allowed the journey to continue.
According to the operator group Getlink, around 200 trucks initially crossed the tunnel under the English Channel “without problems”. “Traffic was pretty steady for an extraordinary and historic night, everything went well,” added Getlink. All truck drivers had completed the formalities made necessary by Brexit, no one was stopped.
At around 9:15 am, the first ferry from Dover, England, docked in the port of Calais. 36 trucks rolled ashore from the “Pride of Kent”, three of them were stopped for additional checks.
Johnson: “Make the most of it”
Great Britain left the EU on February 1st. After a transition period of eleven months, his membership in the EU internal market and the customs union also ended on Friday night. At 11 p.m. (midnight CET), the chiming of Big Ben’s bell heralded a new chapter in the country’s history – after 47 years as part of the European community of states. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson spoke of a “great moment” for his country. “We hold our freedom in our hands and it is up to us to make the most of it,” he said in his New Years address on Thursday evening.
The post-Brexit agreement between Great Britain and the EU, which regulates numerous trade and customs issues, was only agreed at the last minute on December 24th. The agreement is intended to prevent chaos in mutual economic relations – without the deal, delivery problems and long border jams would have threatened from Friday.
As it was, the first day of this new era went largely smoothly. On the English side, too, there were no delays in handling the new export formalities in the early morning. On the way to the dock in Dover, the truck drivers only had to show negative corona tests to get on the ferry.
Endurance test probably not until next week
Local resident Alan Leigh said during his New Year’s walk on the famous White Cliffs of Dover that it was “good to see the port has done its job and there is no backlog”. Despite the smooth premiere, problems with trading on the English Channel are expected in the coming weeks and months. For the first time in decades there are border controls and a lot of paperwork for trading companies. From now on they have to register their goods with French customs, which is done in advance using a “Smart Border” system.
The ferry group Stena Line reported a first small incident on Twitter. Accordingly, several loads of goods, destined for the EU member Ireland, were rejected at the Welsh port of Holyhead because the correct documents were missing.
For the next few days, however, little trade is expected anyway. Many companies increased their stocks in December to avoid bottlenecks due to the new controls in January. New Year’s Day is also a public holiday in Great Britain and France. The authorities expect that the endurance test for border traffic will take place under new conditions in the coming week.