Chaos is set to hit Eurostar customers travelling from France today as the service is set to experience delays of up to two hours as French customs officials continue to strike.
As it enters its third day of delays, the company this morning said it would be experiencing delays on departures from Paris Gare du Nord today due to industrial action by French Customs, meaning that bag checks would be taking longer than usual.
This afternoon lorries continued to queue on the Dunkirk-Calais motorway as French Customs Officers increased their controls on transported goods to protest the lack of resources as the Brexit date approaches, in Saint-Folquin.
Eurostar was urging customers this morning to still arrive at the ticket gates at their scheduled departure time and stated that arriving later could risk passengers missing their trains.
Already today the 7:31 train from London to Paris had been cancelled, with other planned cancellations throughout the day including the 17:01 service from London.
Vehicles queue on the Dunkirk-Calais motorway in the third day of travel chaos
There were lengthy queues in Kent today as lorries waited to check-in for the Eurotunnel amid industrial action in France. Customers on Eurostar have also faced delays
Lorries wait to board the Eurotunnel service in Kent. French border guards carried out thorough checks on all paperwork in a work-to-rule action which has slowed progress of passengers
French Customs Officers increase their controls on transported goods to protest the lack of resources as the Brexit date approaches, in Saint-Folquin
Queues can be seen stretching right down the motorway as traffic seemed to come to a standstill
Trucks from all over Europe were at a standstill this afternoon as traffic cones separated the lanes
However Eurostar said that these delays had nothing to do with the customs problems in France and were scheduled time table changes which had been in place for a while.
This is while trains from Gard du Nord were running with significant delays from as early as 8:37am with that service running with a 23 minute delay.
The 9:03am service was also delayed. It was scheduled to arrive into London for 10:39 but its arrival was estimated for 11:28.
Pictured: The chaos in Paris this week as travellers on cross-Channel services prepare for another day of delays
Major delays hit travellers on Thursday as they tried to make their way between France and England on the Eurostar
Queues on the French side yesterday were photographed by delayed travellers at the station
Passengers waited in queues after French customs officers staged a ‘Brexit-style’ security operation in Paris
Both the 10:06am and the 11:04am service are also set to be delayed but no guidance has yet been issued to how much they will run behind.
Pictured: lorries queuing on the A16, around 15 miles from Calais on Wednesday
Passengers faced waits which were ten times longer than usual as customs officials subjected them to intense checking
In a statement to MailOnline Eurostar said: ‘We are expecting delays for travellers from Paris Gare du Nord today, because the French border authorities are working to rule. This industrial action means that security checks are taking longer than usual.’
As militant French trade unions continue a ‘Brexit-style’ checking system, travel chaos could continue into the weekend.
Ferry firm DFDS announced on Twitter yesterday that they were experiencing delays of up to 60 minutes on its Dover to Dunkirk service.
Speaking to MailOnline a spokesperson for the UK Home Office said: ‘The Government is planning for all potential outcomes as is the duty of any responsible government to prepare for every eventuality.
‘Border Force’s focus is to maintain security and support flows at the border and we will always ensure it has the necessary resources to fulfil its wide range of duties.
‘Border Force has already recruited a Readiness Task Force to boost the front line and allow existing staff to undertake EU exit related training, and is on track to increase its headcount by 900 full-time equivalent by the end of March 2019.’
One frustrated driver in Calais yesterday shared a video online as he drove past parked trucks for more than four minutes in what is believed to be a 15-mile tailback.
Delays continue at the Channel Tunnel (pictured, Dover) as trade unionists strike for better resources and pay in light of Brexit
Calais (pictured yesterday) was also affected as trucks stacked up while customs officials employed what they claimed was a ‘work-to-rule’ protest
As the protests enter their second day, lorries are jammed as traffic mounts in Calais (pictured, this morning)
Christopher Mason, 45, who has been driving for 26 years yesterday said the queues are the worst he has ever seen in Calais.
He told MailOnline: ‘What you are seeing here is just the tip of the iceberg. Calais has two massive lorry compounds which will be full.
‘Nothing has changed, we are going through exactly the same checks and the same processes. I feel as though this is being done to cause chaos. They are just refusing to let trucks go through. As we are sitting in the queues out driving time is going up – which means the other day I had to stay – in the morning I was told it was my own problem and I had to wait for the other trucks to go through first. It’s madness.’
Ferry firm DFDS tweeted this at about 8.30 this morning but has been suffering delays of up to 60 minutes since 6am
Delays are being caused by uniformed French customs officials at the Gare du Nord interrogating all passengers once their luggage had cleared X-ray machines.
‘They’re asking us where we live, what our jobs are, and whether we have any money or drugs on us,’ said Iain Kelly, a businessman travelling to an early morning meeting.
‘This never normally happens, and it’s pretty intimidating. Once your luggage clears you are normally good to go.
‘The customs officials are being extremely aggressive, and causing massive delays. They’re treating everybody as it they’re a problem.’
Waits of up to two hours were reported on Wednesday, during the first day of the Gare du Nord protest.
Five French trade unions are behind the protests, and are demanding more staff and better pay to cope what they will argue will be more difficult checks after Brexit, which will technically happen at the end of this month.
David-Olivier Caron, of the CFDT union, said: ‘Customs officers are strictly applying the rules and reinforcing controls.’
And Philippe Bollengier, from the CGT union, added: ‘There will be stronger controls. Today you have a demonstration of what is going to happen’ after Brexit.
One of his uniformed colleagues dealing with passengers waiting for the 3.03pm service from Paris to London on Wednesday – which was delayed by almost two hours – was more forthright, saying: ‘Brexit will be terrible for all of us.
‘We simply do not have the manpower or resources to deal with the new demands on us.’
Despite this, the officer could not explain what would change, particularly as French customs currently deal with thousands of non-EU passport holders every day.
Instead he spent a minimum of three minutes interrogating every passenger whose luggage had already been cleared by passing through a detector.
While pedestrian passengers were caught in massive queues in London and Paris, truckers had to wait for hours at Dover and Calais
Trade unions regularly bring transport to a halt in France as they campaign for better pay and conditions.
As thousands waited for documents to be checked, Vincent Thomazo, of France’s UNSA trade union said: ‘We are making sure controls are very strict.’
The border guards carried out thorough checks on all paperwork in a work-to-rule action which slowed progress of passengers
Eurostar rubbished the claims trade unionists are making, with a statement on its website reading: ‘We expect to maintain services on the existing basis, timetable and terms and conditions following Brexit.
‘We are working closely with our station partners, Governments and border authorities on both sides of the Channel to ensure that robust plans are in place for us to continue to operate in either a deal or ‘no-deal’ scenario.’
French customs said the work to rule was aimed at improving pay and staff numbers ahead of the UK’s departure from the European Union on March 29th.
A French police car drives next to trucks parked on a highway in the direction of Calais, near Saint-Folquin yesterday
Passengers at the Paris station were asked where they lived, what they did for a living – far beyond their usual procedures
The RHA said it was ‘extremely worried’ the queues will put ‘the lives and livelihoods of truckers at risk’.
Chief executive Richard Burnett said: ‘Since Brexit discussions began, we have been voicing our concerns that the number of customs agents currently employed will be insufficient to tackle the new procedures.
‘The French union officials’ claim that the action is aimed at ‘showing what will happen after Brexit’ is totally unacceptable.
‘Many of our members caught up in the queues are bearing the brunt of this action.
‘They will be stuck with no facilities and will inevitably suffer financial losses as a result of delayed deliveries – particularly those carrying perishable goods.
Lorries were turned the roads around Calais into a car park as cars are being diverted round them to reach their ferries (red markings on the road show severe delays are widespread)
Lorry drivers will be fearful these scenes could repeat themselves as the French customs officials warn of a return to the 1970s
A French police vehicle monitors traffic as rain lashes down on the northern French coast on Wednesday
‘The head of French customs has insisted that France will be ready for Brexit on 29 March, and that such queues would not form.
‘But with only 17 working days left until the UK leaves the EU, I do not share his optimism.
‘This is an intolerable situation and if not resolved, there’s a real danger that it could be the shape of things to come.
‘We continue our call for clarity over border crossing procedures but still nothing is forthcoming.’
Lorries bringing continental exports and deliveries to the United Kingdom experienced heavy traffic
Hundreds of lorries were caught up in the intense customs checks as officials made a point to their employers over their Brexit fears
Emmanuel Macron’s condemnation of the Brexit ‘trap’ in full:
Citizens of Europe,
If I am taking the liberty of addressing you directly, it is not only in the name of the history and values that unite us. It is because time is of the essence. In a few weeks’ time, the European elections will be decisive for the future of our continent.
Never, since the Second World War, has Europe been as essential. Yet never has Europe been in so much danger.
Brexit stands as the symbol of that. It symbolises the crisis of Europe, which has failed to respond to its peoples’ needs for protection from the major shocks of the modern world. It also symbolises the European trap. The trap is not being part of the European Union. The trap is in the lie and the irresponsibility that can destroy it. Who told the British people the truth about their post-Brexit future? Who spoke to them about losing access to the European market? Who mentioned the risks to peace in Ireland of restoring the former border? Nationalist retrenchment offers nothing; it is rejection without an alternative. And this trap threatens the whole of Europe: the anger mongers, backed by fake news, promise anything and everything.
We have to stand firm, proud and lucid, in the face of this manipulation and say first of all what Europe is. It is a historic success: the reconciliation of a devastated continent in an unprecedented project of peace, prosperity and freedom. We should never forget that. And this project continues to protect us today. What country can act on its own in the face of aggressive strategies by the major powers? Who can claim to be sovereign, on their own, in the face of the digital giants? How would we resist the crises of financial capitalism without the euro, which is a force for the entire European Union? Europe is also those thousands of projects daily that have changed the face of our regions: the school refurbished, the road built, and the long-awaited arrival of high-speed Internet access. This struggle is a daily commitment, because Europe, like peace, can never be taken for granted. I tirelessly pursue it in the name of France to take Europe forward and defend its model. We have shown that what we were told was unattainable, the creation of a European defence capability and the protection of social rights, was in fact possible.
Yet we need to do more and sooner, because there is the other trap: the trap of the status quo and resignation. Faced with the major crises in the world, citizens so often ask us, ‘Where is Europe? What is Europe doing?’ It has become a soulless market in their eyes. Yet Europe is not just a market. It is a project. A market is useful, but it should not detract from the need for borders that protect and values that unite. The nationalists are misguided when they claim to defend our identity by withdrawing from Europe, because it is the European civilisation that unites, frees and protects us. But those who would change nothing are also misguided, because they deny the fears felt by our peoples, the doubts that undermine our democracies. We are at a pivotal moment for our continent, a moment when together we need to politically and culturally reinvent the shape of our civilisation in a changing world. It is the moment for European renewal. Hence, resisting the temptation of isolation and divisions, I propose we build this renewal together around three ambitions: freedom, protection and progress.
Emmanuel Macron (pictured) has taken aim at Brexit in an open letter
The European model is based on the freedom of man and the diversity of opinions and creation. Our first freedom is democratic freedom: the freedom to choose our leaders as foreign powers seek to influence our vote at each election. I propose creating a European Agency for the Protection of Democracies, which will provide each Member State with European experts to protect their election process against cyber attacks and manipulation. In this same spirit of independence, we should also ban the funding of European political parties by foreign powers. We should have European rules banish all incitements to hate and violence from the Internet, since respect for the individual is the bedrock of our civilisation of dignity.
Founded on internal reconciliation, the European Union has forgotten to look at the realities of the world. Yet no community can create a sense of belonging if it does not have bounds that it protects. The boundary is freedom in security. We therefore need to rethink the Schengen area: all those who want to be part of it should comply with obligations of responsibility (stringent border controls) and solidarity (one asylum policy with the same acceptance and refusal rules). We will need a common border force and a European asylum office, strict control obligations and European solidarity to which each country will contribute under the authority of a European Council for Internal Security. On the issue of migration, I believe in a Europe that protects both its values and its borders.
The same standards should apply to defence. Substantial progress has been made in the last two years, but we need to set a clear course: a treaty on defence and security should define our fundamental obligations in association with NATO and our European allies: increased defence spending, a truly operational mutual defence clause, and the European Security Council with the United Kingdom on board to prepare our collective decisions.
Our borders also need to guarantee fair competition. What power in the world would accept continued trade with those who respect none of their rules? We cannot suffer in silence. We need to reform our competition policy and reshape our trade policy with penalties or a ban in Europe on businesses that compromise our strategic interests and fundamental values such as environmental standards, data protection and fair payment of taxes; and the adoption of European preference in strategic industries and our public procurement, as our American and Chinese competitors do.
Europe is not a second-rank power. Europe in its entirety is a vanguard: it has always defined the standards of progress. In this, it needs to drive forward a project of convergence rather than competition: Europe, where social security was created, needs to introduce a social shield for all workers, east to west and north to south, guaranteeing the same pay in the same workplace, and a minimum European wage appropriate to each country and discussed collectively every year.
Getting back on track with progress also concerns spearheading the ecological cause. Will we be able to look our children in the eye if we do not also clear our climate debt? The European Union needs to set its target – zero carbon by 2050 and pesticides halved by 2025 – and adapt its policies accordingly with such measures as a European Climate Bank to finance the ecological transition, a European food safety force to improve our food controls and, to counter the lobby threat, independent scientific assessment of substances hazardous to the environment and health. This imperative needs to guide all our action: from the Central Bank to the European Commission, from the European budget to the Investment Plan for Europe, all our institutions need to have the climate as their mandate.
Emmanuel Macron and Theresa May at a summit in Canada in June 2018
Progress and freedom are about being able to live from your work: Europe needs to look ahead to create jobs. This is why it needs not only to regulate the digital giants by putting in place European supervision of the major platforms (prompt penalties for unfair competition, transparent algorithms, etc.), but also to finance innovation by giving the new European Innovation Council a budget on a par with the United States in order to spearhead new technological breakthroughs such as artificial intelligence.
A world-oriented Europe needs to look towards Africa, with which we should enter into a covenant for the future, taking the same road and ambitiously and non-defensively supporting African development with such measures as investment, academic partnerships and education for girls.
Freedom, protection and progress. We need to build European renewal on these pillars. We cannot let nationalists without solutions exploit the people’s anger. We cannot sleepwalk through a diminished Europe. We cannot become ensconced in business as usual and wishful thinking. European humanism demands action. And everywhere, the people are standing up to be part of that change. So by the end of the year, let’s set up, with the representatives of the European institutions and the Member States, a Conference for Europe in order to propose all the changes our political project needs, with an open mind, even to amending the treaties. This conference will need to engage with citizens’ panels and hear academics, business and labour representatives, and religious and spiritual leaders. It will define a roadmap for the European Union that translates these key priorities into concrete actions. There will be disagreement, but is it better to have a static Europe or a Europe that advances, sometimes at different paces, and that is open to all?
In this Europe, the peoples will really take back control of their future. In this Europe, the United Kingdom, I am sure, will find its true place.
Citizens of Europe, the Brexit impasse is a lesson for us all. We need to escape this trap and make the upcoming elections and our project meaningful. It is for you to decide whether Europe and the values of progress that it embodies are to be more than just a passing episode in history. This is the choice I propose: to chart together the road to European renewal.