Brexit storage is causing 17-kilometer truck queues and delays of up to five hours in Calais, France, it has emerged as hopes for a trade deal between Europe and the Union and the UK are fading.
Sources close to the president of the Hauts-de-France region said that there had been 50% more heavy goods vehicles on the access roads to the French port and to the Eurotunnel, which connects France to the Grande -Brittany, during the last three weeks.
“November and December are always busy months, but extreme stocks because companies are trying to get goods into the UK before January 1 are the main cause,” the source said.
“Normally we have around 6,000 trucks, but now there are around 9,000. It shows the extreme consequences of Brexit, whether there is a deal or not. Trucks must slow down all along the A16 to return to Dunkirk with delays of up to 17 km. “
The delays in the Channel crossing are causing serious problems in the UK. Honda and Jaguar have had to temporarily halt production due to parts shortages, and it emerged Friday that Ikea had been besieged by complaints over what it called “operational challenges” as shipments of his flat furniture is held in blocked ports.
Eurotunnel said it believes delays on the UK side will continue for the next three weeks. Its contingencies center on the worst-case scenario of a no-deal Brexit involving up to 7,000 trucks lining up in Kent.
British Prime Minister Boris Johnson and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen said on Friday that they are unlikely to reach a post-Brexit trade deal by Sunday.
EU and UK negotiators are engaged in a final push to reach a deal over the weekend amid growing pessimism in Brussels and sharper rhetoric over a no-deal in the UK.
Negotiators will continue to discuss until Sunday, when the two sides agree to decide whether a deal is possible. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson on Friday said a no-deal outcome was “very, very likely” after EU leaders rejected his suggestion of one-on-one meetings to break the deadlock.
Talks remain stuck on fishing, guarantees of a level playing field and how to enforce any deal. But attention has been restricted in recent days to the “ratchet clause” which would allow the EU to impose tariffs on British products if it raised its environmental, employment or consumption standards and that the UK did not do the same.
Hauts-de-France leaders have predicted Brexit congestion since the first threat of no-deal in 2018, when regional president Xavier Bertrand delivered a furious speech in the European Parliament warning of a ‘dark scenario’.
French authorities calculated at the time that a two minute delay at the port or Eurotunnel gate would result in queues of 27km on either side, resulting in slow queues of 17km. will be read in some quarters as a success.
Rear traffic is also quickly caused by security incidents, with the persistent problem of migrants trying to board truck trailers.
The delays were offset by long delays at Eurotunnel on the UK side, caused in part by a reduction in the number of ferries due to Covid and the number of empty trucks returning to the continent after their deliveries in stock. Queues that sometimes stretch for at least five miles have formed almost every day over the past two weeks.
“We are seeing several hundred trucks above forecast midweek,” a Eurotunnel spokesperson said. Recent business figures show traffic increased 11 percent from last year in November.
Eurotunnel said contingency plans, also modeled since 2018, made it possible to quickly transfer traffic to trains. “We expect this to be the case for the next three weeks, with some slowing as Christmas approaches and then dropping in the first week of January,” the spokesperson said.
“Many companies have said that their production for the first two weeks will stop due to nervousness about what is to come, which will have an impact and we also believe that the authorities will be lenient in the first days after. January 1st.”
The desire to accumulate stocks stems from the fact that customs, regulatory and agri-food controls will be introduced with or without a deal because the UK leaves the single market. Further disruption is expected over the weekend in Kent with a live test of Operation Brock, the UK’s no-deal traffic emergency plan for the M20, put in place on Friday evening.
The UK hopes to mitigate the impact by conducting checks over six months, but companies have expressed concern that customs software and special Brexit ePassports allow international freight drivers to enter in Kent are not ready in time for Brexit Day. – Guardian