Brexit approaching, French customs officials continue their "zeal strike" in Calais

Customs officers, who are on their eleventh day of mobilization, are demanding an increase in their numbers to prepare for the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union.


The "strike of zeal" customs officials in Calais caused many traffic jams, Thursday, March 14. DENIS CHARLET / AFP

While the political situation is complicated in London with the approach of Brexit - March 29 - French customs continue Thursday, March 14, their "strike zeal" in Calais, which lasts for ten days now. They denounce the deterioration of their working conditions and ask for the increase of their supplementary allowance, but also an increase of the numbers in the approach of the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union (EU).

Read also: In Calais and Dunkerque, a customs strike to show "what will happen" in case of Brexit

Since the beginning of March, they have strengthened border controls, leading in particular to long wait times for heavy goods vehicles bound for England. In the early afternoon on Thursday, a line of trucks was waiting at 6 kilometers on the A16 towards the Eurotunnel site, and the movement was causing a slowdown of 14 kilometers in total, according to the prefecture. from the Pas-de-Calais.

More than 1,700 lorries parked in the four storage areas installed by the authorities on the A16 and A26. Deflection and diversion measures were put in place for trucks weighing more than 7.5 tonnes and on the A16 at Ghyvelde (North), heavy goods vehicles were even forced to turn back towards Belgium. Some access to the A16 motorway was closed, including for cars.

700 additional customs

Asked about France Info Thursday morning, the Minister of Public Accounts, Gerald Darmanin, said he wants to continue discussions with representatives of customs. "It is normal that in this particular situation, the unions are trying to get things they did not get before, " he said. We must continue to discuss with them. "

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The minister, however, recalled that the state was in a "deficit" situation , with a "significant public debt" , and had already made efforts in anticipation of Brexit:

"We increased the number of customs officers by 700 to face a" hard "Brexit on March 29th if it were to take place. "

To put an end to this "strike of zeal" , the ministry had proposed Tuesday an envelope of 14 million euros, financed from the budget of Bercy. This gesture was considered insufficient by the customs unions, who decided to continue their movement. On France info, Gerald Darmanin said he understood Brexit's concerns while calling for "avoid telling untruths" . "For example: the" strike of zeal "affects trucks arriving in the region of Hauts-de-France" to go "towards England" .

But "there will be no lanes of trucks on French motorways because we will not control the trucks that go to England: it will be the work of the English. We are going to control trucks coming from England, " he said.

Our selection of articles to understand Brexit

  • After a year of tortuous negotiations, the European Union and Britain finally agreed on a draft Brexit agreement.
  • But the British Parliament rejected the compromise, weakening the prime minister, Theresa May.
  • What does this agreement provide? Read our decryption. Negotiations have, for a long time, stumbled over the issue of the border between Ireland and Ireland.
  • France is preparing today for a "no deal", just like the United Kingdom.
  • Understand: what arguments for and against the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union?

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REF: https://www.lemonde.fr/international/article/2019/03/14/a-l-approche-du-brexit-les-douaniers-francais-poursuivent-leur-greve-du-zele-a-calais_5436091_3210.html