With new veterinary and food checks expected regardless of the Brexit outcome Calais is preparing to invest €20 million into a new customs system complex enough to handle the millions of cargo and passenger vehicles that cross to or from the UK by ferry or the Eurotunnel each year.
Calais is planning to build a new 40 hectare servicing complex of warehouses, docks and admin centres on the outskirts of the port town – equidistant to the Eurotunnel and the port, the mayor, Natacha Bouchart, said in an interview with local daily Ouest France.
Bouchart says both the EU and the French government have so far stayed silent on covering the costs of the upgrades.
Calais will have to hire up to 150 new customs officials, yet all French ports engaged with the UK will face costs of between €10 and €30 million, estimates Bouchart.
“It’s quarter to midnight and many stakeholders have woken up late,” Xavier Bertrand, president of the Hauts-de-France region, which includes the ports of Calais and Dunkirk, commented recently, according to Le Monde.
The same daily states that more than four million lorry crossings and 30 million passenger crossings each year at the ports of Calais and Dunkirk combined are linked to the UK.
Just over 3.6 million lorries and cars, crossing to or from the UK, passed through Calais, the closest port on the continent to Britain, in 2017, according to data from the Port Boulogne Calais authorities.
Nine million people used France’s premiere port in terms of passenger numbers, according to the data.