Speaking today, Cabinet Office minister, Michael Gove warned businesses to prepare for additional disruption at both Dover and Calais in the coming weeks. Although he claimed the Government would “redouble” their efforts to make sure there is as little delay as possible from the UK side, he admitted disruption may occur in the coming weeks. Commenting on the essential Dover-Calais route, emeritus professor of international history at the London School of Economics, Alan Sked claimed measures must now be taken against France.
Professor Sked said: “Port authorities have been warned to expect much tougher French inspections from next week.
“We should really be thinking up retaliatory measures against the French to undermine Macron.”
The UK and EU are now a week into new arrangements after striking a late Brexit deal.
As it stands, port authorities in Dover have stated traffic has managed to flow easily, although they indicate lorry volumes were lower than expected at this time of year.
Although no quotas have been placed on goods, new paperwork is required for products to pass between Calais and Dover.
Mr Gove stated: “So far disruption at the border hasn’t been too profound but it is the case that in the weeks ahead we expect that there will be significant additional disruption, particularly on the Dover-Calais route.
“It is our responsibility in Government to make sure that business is as ready as possible, and hauliers and traders have already done a lot but we have to redouble our efforts to communicate the precise paperwork that is required in order to make sure that trade can flow freely.
“So over the course of the next few days, Government will be stepping up that communications effort to make sure that business knows what is required.”
Prior to the end of the transition period, some port authorities had stated there would be no disruption to trade if customs declarations were done correctly.
Speaking before the turn of the year, Calais port chief, Jean-Marc Puissesseau stated he did not expect disruption to traffic flow.
He added: “Brexit is not synonymous with chaos.
“Brexit is not synonymous with a snarling up of traffic.”
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In terms of food, however, some lorry and freight drivers have been held at stations in France due to newly built border controls for sanitary and phytosanitary checks (SPS) on food.
Within the agreement, the EU and UK did agree to maintain a general aim to keep checks of this nature to a minimum.
Although the deal does not remove the need for customs declarations for GB-EU traders, it does allow for simplified terms.
The UK has pledged to roll these in for EU goods over a six-month period while Brussels has them in place for all goods from Great Britain as of January 1.
If there is a dispute on any of these measures, or indeed, any element of the deal, the UK and EU agreed to a framework resolution.
Initially, the two sides will attempt to resolve the dispute but if that is not possible, the dispute will be sent to an independent tribunal – not all can be referred to this.