Trade

Calais president: Plan to cut French ports out of EU trade route scandalous

Xavier Bertrand, the president of the Calais region in France, described a European Commission plan that excludes French ports from a new shipping route linking Ireland with the Continent after Brexit as “scandalous and unacceptable.”

POLITICO reported last week that the Commission had adopted a proposal to revise the routing of one of its strategic transport corridors, with billions of euros of infrastructure funding from Brussels at stake.

The new route would connect Dublin and Cork with the Belgian ports of Zeebrugge and Antwerp and Rotterdam in the Netherlands, to channel trade directly from Ireland to mainland Europe after Brexit without using the U.K. as a land bridge.

The Commission did not explain why it decided to exclude French ports, but the routing follows concerns about congestion in Northern France.

“This is a scandalous and unacceptable decision,” Bertrand, the president of the Hauts de France region, told the Telegraph in an interview published Monday. “The risk of traffic jams if new customs checks are introduced after Brexit is the same for France, Belgium and the Netherlands. Why discriminate against our ports? The European Commission should review this and the French government should react.”

The Commissions proposal must still be adopted by the European Parliament and the Council, and depends on the outcome of Brexit negotiations, since it would only take effect once Britain is excluded from EU regulations covering funding for transport projects.

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