A 14-year agreement between France and the UK could be scrapped following Brexit, leading to difficulties for freight companies between Calais and Dover.
Le Touquet Treaty, signed by then Prime Minister Tony Blair and French president Jacques Chirac, allows authorities in both the UK and France to carry out immigration controls in each other’s territory at the sea ports.
France has an immigration checkpoint at the Port of Dover where authorities check the passports of people travelling to Calais. The UK has a checkpoint in Calais.
Customs Checks following Brexit
However, with Britain’s imminent departure from the European Union, that treaty could be abolished, resulting in the two nations performing customs checks on their own territory.
And in light of French presidential candidate Alain Juppe’s claims that the UK should be responsible for their own checks due to the ‘disastrous’ image that the Calais migrant crisis has caused his country, the Freight Transport Association (FTA) has stressed the importance of cross-border checks.
“Moving controls back to Dover would cause cross-Channel chaos and would significantly impact on the frequency of crossings,” said FTA EU Affairs Manager Chris Yarsley. “The layouts of both the Port of Dover and the Folkestone Channel Tunnel terminal would need to be completely redesigned and the number of sailings and shuttles would be limited to the rate at which passport and immigration checks could be completed upon arrival.”
Yarsley added: “Scrapping the Treaty and the juxtaposed controls would be short-sighted and counter-productive. FTA repeats its long-held message that attention should be placed on securing the road network on the approaches to the Channel terminals rather than moving the border.”
FTA says the arrangement is mutually beneficial and any change would be a signal to people smuggling gangs to continue targeting commercial vehicles and their drivers in an effort to reach Britain via the Port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel.