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BREXIT

Macron says ‘time has come’ for British to make choices over Brexit

French President Emmanuel Macron said Wednesday that the "time has come" for British leaders to decide on how the country will leave the EU, adding that an extension of Article 50 could only be accepted if there is a "clear objective".

Macron says 'time has come' for British to make choices over Brexit
Photo: AFP
“As Michel Barnier has said, we don't need more time, what we need most of all is a decision,” Macron said after talks with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Paris, referring to the EU's chief Brexit negotiator.
 
“If the British need more time, we will examine a request for an extension — if it is justified by new choices on the part of the British,” he said.
   
But he reiterated that “the withdrawal agreement cannot be renegotiated.”
   
Macron's comments come as British Prime Minister Theresa May faces a vote Wednesday that could allow a possible request for a Brexit delay.
  
It was a major reversal for May, who had long insisted there would be no delay to Brexit even if that meant crashing out without a withdrawal deal — on citizens' rights, a divorce bill, and the status of the land border with Ireland.

 

 
Earlier on Wednesday the EU's chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said that a delay of Britain's exit from the bloc is a possibility, but only if London explains in detail what it would do with the extra time.
   
Any delay would have to be approved by the 27 other EU nations, Michel Barnier told France Info radio.
   
“And the question they will immediately ask is, What for? That's what will determine the length of any extension,” Barnier said.
   
Their goal would be to ensure that “we don't find ourselves at an impasse as we do today” at the end of any additional period,” he said, reiterating that the Brexit date of March 29 “was Britain's choice.”
 
“Speaking objectively, we don't need more time, we need a decision,” Barnier said, adding that he remained determined to work towards securing an exit deal.
   
“It's not correct to say 'no deal' is the most likely scenario. It's possible, but not yet probable,” he said.
    
European Council President Donald Tusk had already indicated Monday that European leaders were willing to consider a Brexit delay, calling it a “rational solution” given the political turmoil in Britain.
 
 
   
 

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TRAVEL NEWS

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport. 

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