LATEST: EU recommends reopening of French border for ‘essential’ travel from UK

The European Commission has recommended that countries reopen their borders to 'essential' traffic from the UK, which includes freight transport and French citizens and residents trying to travel home.

LATEST: EU recommends reopening of French border for 'essential' travel from UK
France has banned all travel coming in from the UK for 48 hours. Photo: AFP

The Commission's recommendation is that people heading to their country of residence should be allowed to travel, along with EU citizens heading home and essential freight traffic.

Entry for individual travellers is likely to be dependent on testing.

European Commissioner for Justice, Didier Reynders, said: “Given the current uncertainties and in light of the precautionary principle, Member States should take coordinated action to discourage non-essential travel between the UK and the EU.

“At the same time, blanket travel bans should not prevent thousands of EU and UK citizens from returning to their homes.

“While precautions are needed to contain the spread of the new coronavirus variant, with today's Recommendation, we therefore ensure that the restrictions are coordinated and provide for the necessary exemptions for citizens and residents returning home and other essential travellers.”

The recommendations will be put to EU ambassadors later on Tuesday.

The Commission can only make recommendations and each EU country keeps control of decisions regarding its borders, but France has been keen for an integrated European solution so it likely to go along with the recommendations.

If adopted it would mean the following people could travel to France;

  • Hauliers bringing freight traffic
  • French nationals currently in the UK
  • Non-French nationals who are currently in the UK but have their permanent residence in France. It was unclear what evidence will be needed to prove residency.

Entry will also be dependant on a negative Covid test, although the type of testing for hauliers – thousands of whom are waiting in England – is still under discussion.

The French government had already advised its citizens in the UK to get a test in advance of the border reopening.

Only a PCR (nasal swab) test will be accepted, not the quick-result antigen test or the finger-prick antibody test, but many French nationals in the UK have reported great difficulty in sourcing a test.

France announced on Sunday night that it would be closing its borders completely for 48 hours in response to an announcement by the UK government that a highly infectious new strain of Covid-19 had been discovered.

It was one of about 40 countries around the world to announce a ban on entry from the UK, but the closure of the French border caused chaos in southern England with hundreds of lorries unable to access ports and the Channel Tunnel were stuck in long tailbacks.

Travel from France to the UK is not covered by the ban, but many operators have cancelled services.

Other countries such as Germany and Italy have already announced a travel ban running until January 6th, but France's ban was only in place until 11.59pm on Tuesday.

The French Defence Council met on Monday night and said they had suggested solutions, but wanted to work in partnership with the European Commission for a harmonised approach.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson had also called French President Emmanuel Macron to discuss the border issue.



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French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

After the seismic decision of the US Supreme Court on Friday, French MPs are calling for the right to abortion in France to be protected by the constitution.

French lawmakers push for abortion rights to be enshrined in constitution

Lawmakers from French President Emmanuel Macron’s Renaissance party are to propose a parliamentary bill on Saturday that would enshrine the right to abortion in the constitution. 

The move comes after the US Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 “Roe v. Wade” decision on Friday.

“In France we guarantee and advance the rights of women. We protect them,” said Aurore Bergé – the head of Renaissance in the Assemblée nationale and one of the key sponsors of the bill. 

Another co-sponsor, Marie-Pierre Rixain tweeted: “What happens in elsewhere cannot happen in France. We must protect the right to abortion for future generations. 

In 2018 and 2019, Emmanuel Macron’s party – which back then was known as La République en Marche – refused to back bills proposed by left-wing party, La France Insoumise, to enshrine abortion rights into the constitution. 

In a Saturday interview with France Inter, Bergé suggested that the success of Marine Le Pen’s Rassemblement National during parliamentary elections earlier this month had created a sense of newfound urgency. 

She described the far-right MPs as “fierce opponents of women’s access to abortion” and said it was important “to take no risk” in securing it. 

READ MORE France’s Macron condemns US abortion ruling

French Prime Minister Elisabeth Borne has come out in support of the bill. 

The left-wing opposition block, NUPES, also backs it and had planned to propose an identical piece legislation of its own on Monday.