European Transport Commissioner Adina Vălean warned on Thursday, December 24 that 10,000 European truckers were struggling to return from Britain and criticized France for imposing coronavirus restrictions on them.
Several countries in Europe and the world have banned travel from the UK this week after a new strain of the virus was discovered.
“We issued a communication calling for proportional and non-discriminatory measures and the lifting of all restrictions for transport workers,” said Vălean.
“I regret that France has gone against our recommendations,” she tweeted.
But French European Affairs Minister Clément Beaune denied this, responding angrily in a tweeted response to a British journalist.
“We have exactly followed the EU recommendation (opening by testing) and are now more open than other European countries, having worked together with the British authorities on this protocol.”
France’s decision to restrict traffic had the most impact, with trains and ferries crossing the Channel cut off for 48 hours due to massive freight congestion in the south-east of England.
“Around 10,000 truck drivers are looking to enter the EU. Thousands of thousands are already in the Dover region in their vehicles, ”said Vălean.
“We have worked hard these days to unblock a crisis between two European countries, France and the UK,” she said. “I am happy that at the moment trucks are slowly crossing the Channel.”
I regret that France has gone against our recommendations and brings us back to the situation we were in in March when supply chains were interrupted.
– Adina Valean (@AdinaValean) December 23, 2020
On Tuesday, the European Commission advised member states to drop the blanket ban, and France agreed to allow drivers if they had negative COVID-19 tests.
But Brussels had suggested exempting transport workers from this restriction.
“And I would like to thank the UK authorities for starting to test the pilots at a capacity of 300 tests per hour,” said Vălean.
And she compared the situation to the breakdown in coordination between European capitals in March that hampered early efforts to contain the virus “when supply chains were cut off.”