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EU announces no-deal plans to guarantee road and air travel with UK in January

With Brexit talks between London and Brussels seemingly deadlocked, the EU has published its no-deal contingency plans to ensure that road and air links with the UK can continue in January.

EU announces no-deal plans to guarantee road and air travel with UK in January
Photo: AFP

With the EU and the UK still far from reaching a deal, according to reports, Brussels has made a move to publish its contingency plans to ensure travel can continue after the end of the transition period.

“While the Commission will continue to do its utmost to reach a mutually beneficial agreement with the UK, there is now significant uncertainty whether a deal will be in place on January 1st 2021,” read a statement on Thursday.

“The European Commission has today put forward a set of targeted contingency measures ensuring basic reciprocal air and road connectivity between the EU and the UK, as well as allowing for the possibility of reciprocal fishing access by EU and UK vessels to each other's waters.”

If no deal is reached between London and Brussels then the legal agreements that allow flights to operate between the UK and the EU and road passenger and haulage to run smoothly will expire.

So on Thursday the EU put forward contingency plans to allow road transport connectivity and flights to continue operating, but they were conditional on the UK accepting the rules.

The aim of these contingency measures is to cater for the period during which there is no agreement in place. If no agreement enters into application, they will end after a fixed period.

Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said: “Negotiations are still ongoing.

“However, given that the end of the transition is very near, there is no guarantee that if and when an agreement is found, it can enter into force on time.

“Our responsibility is to be prepared for all eventualities, including not having a deal in place with the UK on January 1st 2021. That is why we are coming forward with these measures today”.

The basic contingency plans are as follows:

  • Basic air connectivity: A proposal for a Regulation to ensure the provision of certain air services between the UK and the EU for 6 months, provided the UK ensures the same.
  • Aviation safety: A proposal for a Regulation ensuring that various safety certificates for products can continue to be used in EU aircraft without disruption, thereby avoiding the grounding of EU aircraft.
  • Basic road connectivity: A proposal for a Regulation covering basic connectivity with regard to both road freight, and road passenger transport for 6 months, provided the UK assures the same to EU hauliers.

The UK had not officially responded but the government's transport secretary, Grant Shapps has said previously: “The government’s priority is to ensure that flights can continue to operate safely, securely and punctually between the UK/EU at the end of transition period, regardless of the outcome of negotiations.

“Air travel is vital for both the UK and the EU in connecting people and facilitating trade and tourism, and we are confident measures will be in place to allow for continued air connectivity beyond the end of 2020.”

For passengers travelling between the UK and the EU after January 1st a raft of changes will come in regardless of whether or not a deal is reached – full details here.

Travellers from the UK also face the possibility of being excluded from the EU under Covid rules that have seen the Bloc's external borders closed to all non-essential travel since March.

 

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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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