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BREXIT

‘We must move quickly’: Macron wants to get Brexit sorted after UK election

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday he hoped things could "move forward quickly" on Brexit after Britain's general elections, the results of which are expected during a European summit this week.

'We must move quickly': Macron wants to get Brexit sorted after UK election
AFP

Macron, who has expressed impatience over repeated postponements of the deadline for Britain's departure from the European Union, made the remarks as he hosted the new president of the European Council, Charles Michel, at the Elysee presidential palace.

 “We must be able to move forward quickly” after Thursday's election, he said.

Twenty-seven European Union leaders — all minus Boris Johnson — will meet in Brussels on Thursday and Friday to discuss Britain's pending departure from the union, the subject of years of fraught negotiations between London and Brussels.

“In any event, it will be very important to stick with the method followed until now, that is to say unity of the 27, (EU Brexit negotiator) Michel Barnier alone conducting negotiations, rigour in defending our interests without yielding to pressure and while respecting, with Britain, the conditions of fair competition,” said Macron.

Britain has until January 31 to leave the EU, after having obtained three postponements.

Michel underlined the importance of building “a close relationship with Britain” after Brexit, calling it “an extremely important partner for the European Union”.

This week's talks will focus on the EU's post-Brexit ties with Britain, particularly regarding trade.

Also on the agenda is the EU's budget, with Michel urging leaders not to dig in their heels, but instead “move forward to bring different points of view closer together.”

“We need more political debates,” in the European Council, “without taboos”, said Macron.

The future budget must reconcile the financial loss from Britain stopping its contributions with new priorities such as climate change, security, and defence concerns, on top of existing commitments such as agriculture.

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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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