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BREXIT

France: We are not opposed to Brexit delay, but a year is too long

France is not opposed to an extension to the Brexit deadline, but would push for strict conditions to be attached, adding that a year would be too long, an aide to French President Emmanuel Macron said Tuesday.

France: We are not opposed to Brexit delay, but a year is too long
Theresa May and Emmanuel Macron are due to meet on Tuesday evening in Paris. Photo: AFP
“We've never been closed to the idea of finding an alternative solution to 'no deal' within certain limits and not at any price,” the aide said on condition of anonymity.
   
Macron had previously sought to raise pressure on British Prime Minister Theresa May by saying an extension at a summit of European leaders starting 
Wednesday to the current exit date of April 12 was not “automatic”. 
   
The comments raised speculation that Macron might take a tough line at the Brussels meeting, which would led to Britain crashing out of the bloc without a deal.
   
Such a scenario exit was “still a risk,” the aide said, but was not “the favoured option of France.”
 
The conditions for the extension would be in terms of length — the aide said a year “seems too long” — and arrangements to limit Britain's influence within the EU during the extension period.
   
These would limit the power of Britain's commissioner in the European Commission, the EU's executive arm, and the role of the British prime minister at meetings of EU leaders, the aide said.
   
“There would need to be clear commitments and then a mechanism for monitoring them,” the aide said.
   
“There would be a transition period for the United Kingdom as an intermediary member, which is present and applying the rules but not taking part in decision making,” the aide said.
   
The role of British members of the European parliament, for which elections are scheduled on May 26, would be more difficult because under EU treaties they could not be stopped from voting, the aide added.

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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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