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BREXIT

Hollande to talk Brexit with EU leaders

French President Francois Hollande will meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Italy on Monday to discuss the EU's way forward after Britain's shock vote to quit the bloc.

Hollande to talk Brexit with EU leaders
Photo: AFP
French President Francois Hollande will meet with Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Italy on Monday to discuss the EU's way forward after Britain's shock vote to quit the bloc.
 
The gathering on the island of Ventotene in Italy comes three weeks before an informal EU summit in Bratislava, which is to be held without Britain and is intended to map out a post-Brexit course for the European Union.
 
Renzi chose the small island off Naples as the meeting place for Monday's talks because of the role Ventotene played in the EU's founding history, the Italian government said in a statement Wednesday.
 
Photo: Ilario/Flickr
 
The island served as a prison for political opponents of the country's fascist government during World War II, and it was there that inmates Ernesto Rossi and Altiero Spinelli co-wrote the “Ventotene Manifesto”, considered by many to be a key driver behind the movement for European unification.
 
The 1941 manifesto called for a federation of European states which would create a bond between the member countries and prevent war.
 
Britain stunned Europe when it voted to leave the bloc in a referendum two months ago, triggering debate about the grouping's future and the need for reforms.
 
At their first post-referendum talks in late June, Hollande, Merkel and Renzi – the leaders of the eurozone's three largest economies – urged “a new impulse” for the EU.
 
 
Reacting to the Brexit vote in June, Hollande said:
 
“The British vote poses a grave test for Europe, which must show solidity and strength in its response to the economic and financial risks.”

He added that the vote was “a painful choice that he already regrets”, and that France would continue to work with the UK, which he called a “great ally”, reported the BFM TV channel. 

Expressing his chagrin over the vote, he said: “It always takes less time to undo than to do, to destroy than to build.”
 
But “the choice is theirs, and we must respect it,” the Socialist president said.
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

A week after chaotic scenes and 6-hour queues at the port of Dover, the British motoring organisation the AA has issued an amber traffic warning, and says it expects cross-Channel ports to be very busy once again this weekend as holidaymakers head to France.

Amber alert: Travellers to France warned of another busy weekend at UK ports

The AA issued the amber warning on Thursday for the whole of the UK, the first time that it has issued this type of warning in advance.

Roads across the UK are predicted to be extremely busy due to a combination of holiday getaways, several large sporting events and a rail strike – but the organisation said that it expected traffic to once again be very heavy around the port of Dover and the Channel Tunnel terminal at Folkestone.

Last weekend there was gridlock in southern England and passengers heading to France enduring waits of more than six hours at Dover, and four hours at Folkestone.

The AA said that while it doesn’t expect quite this level of chaos to be repeated, congestion was still expected around Dover and Folkestone.

On Thursday ferry operator DFDS was advising passengers to allow two hours to get through check-in and border controls, while at Folkestone, the Channel Tunnel operators only said there was a “slightly longer than usual” wait for border controls.

In both cases, passengers who miss their booked train or ferry while in the queue will be accommodated on the next available crossing with no extra charge.

Last weekend was the big holiday ‘getaway’ weekend as schools broke up, and a technical fault meant that some of the French border control team were an hour late to work, adding to the chaos. 

But the underlying problems remain – including extra checks needed in the aftermath of Brexit, limited space for French passport control officers at Dover and long lorry queues on the motorway heading to Folkestone.

OPINION UK-France travel crisis will only be solved when the British get real about Brexit

The port of Dover expects 140,000 passengers, 45,000 cars and 18,000 freight vehicles between Thursday and Sunday, and queues were already starting to build on Thursday morning.

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