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Irish Hauliers Face Delays at Ports in France Despite EU Fast-Track Plan

31st December 2020
An IT system set up by the French authorities will not be able to distinguish between British and Irish lorry drivers transporting food consignments through the UK “landbridge”. An IT system set up by the French authorities will not be able to distinguish between British and Irish lorry drivers transporting food consignments through the UK “landbridge”. Credit: The Irish Times-twitter

Border authorities in France have been asked to waive a pre-notification requirement for Irish hauliers exporting food through French ferry ports from Britain. Irish companies say the paperwork will delay deliveries from January 1st.

As The Irish Times reports, transport companies and exporters have raised concerns that an IT system set up by French authorities will not be able to distinguish between British and Irish lorry drivers transporting food consignments through the UK “landbridge”, exposing them to potential delays at French ports.

France developed its own IT system to manage the large volumes of road freight crossing from Britain through French ports before a proposal from Ireland and other EU states was approved by the European Commission to fast-track EU food exports transiting through a non-EU country.

Rather than use the food safety and animal health traceability system known as Traces, the commission agreed with member states most affected by Brexit, including Ireland, to use an alternative IT system for EU goods re-entering the union under the customs transit procedure.

The commission agreed to grant a derogation from the rules last June to avoid the time-consuming requirement of having to submit health certificates for these food consignments or submit multiple health certificates for lorry drivers carrying several different types of food.

However, the French IT system to handle post-Brexit traffic passing through English channel ports cannot be adapted in time for the UK’s departure from the EU taking effect on January 1st.

This will force Irish hauliers to pre-notify the French authorities of food exports and other relevant information on their food consignments on the Traces system under the EU sanitary rules before they transit through the UK or else face the prospect of delays at France’s ports.

To read more click here on food consignments and potential delays. 

Published in Ferry
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Ferry & Car Ferry News The ferry industry on the Irish Sea, is just like any other sector of the shipping industry, in that it is made up of a myriad of ship operators, owners, managers, charterers all contributing to providing a network of routes carried out by a variety of ships designed for different albeit similar purposes.

All this ferry activity involves conventional ferry tonnage, 'ro-pax', where the vessel's primary design is to carry more freight capacity rather than passengers. This is in some cases though, is in complete variance to the fast ferry craft where they carry many more passengers and charging a premium.

In reporting the ferry scene, we examine the constantly changing trends of this sector, as rival ferry operators are competing in an intensive environment, battling out for market share following the fallout of the economic crisis. All this has consequences some immediately felt, while at times, the effects can be drawn out over time, leading to the expense of others, through reduced competition or takeover or even face complete removal from the marketplace, as witnessed in recent years.

Arising from these challenging times, there are of course winners and losers, as exemplified in the trend to run high-speed ferry craft only during the peak-season summer months and on shorter distance routes. In addition, where fastcraft had once dominated the ferry scene, during the heady days from the mid-90's onwards, they have been replaced by recent newcomers in the form of the 'fast ferry' and with increased levels of luxury, yet seeming to form as a cost-effective alternative.

Irish Sea Ferry Routes

Irrespective of the type of vessel deployed on Irish Sea routes (between 2-9 hours), it is the ferry companies that keep the wheels of industry moving as freight vehicles literally (roll-on and roll-off) ships coupled with motoring tourists and the humble 'foot' passenger transported 363 days a year.

As such the exclusive freight-only operators provide important trading routes between Ireland and the UK, where the freight haulage customer is 'king' to generating year-round revenue to the ferry operator. However, custom built tonnage entering service in recent years has exceeded the level of capacity of the Irish Sea in certain quarters of the freight market.

A prime example of the necessity for trade in which we consumers often expect daily, though arguably question how it reached our shores, is the delivery of just in time perishable products to fill our supermarket shelves.

A visual manifestation of this is the arrival every morning and evening into our main ports, where a combination of ferries, ro-pax vessels and fast-craft all descend at the same time. In essence this a marine version to our road-based rush hour traffic going in and out along the commuter belts.

Across the Celtic Sea, the ferry scene coverage is also about those overnight direct ferry routes from Ireland connecting the north-western French ports in Brittany and Normandy.

Due to the seasonality of these routes to Europe, the ferry scene may be in the majority running between February to November, however by no means does this lessen operator competition.

Noting there have been plans over the years to run a direct Irish –Iberian ferry service, which would open up existing and develop new freight markets. Should a direct service open, it would bring new opportunities also for holidaymakers, where Spain is the most visited country in the EU visited by Irish holidaymakers ... heading for the sun!

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