Published: Wed, 23 September 2020
Seán Kelly MEP has called on Ireland to develop more frequent, direct sea trading routes to reduce our dependence on the land bridge. The EU’s Commissioner-designate for Trade, Valdis Dombrovskis, expressed support for Mr Kelly’s proposal in a meeting with the Ireland South MEP today.
Mr Kelly’s comments come amid growing concern over the UK’s Internal Market Bill moving closer to enactment.
“Northern Ireland’s Assembly last night made it clear that the Internal Market Bill does not have its consent. An action I fear, like many others, will fall upon deaf ears in the UK government as Boris Johnson’s claims that the bill being about protecting peace in the North rings further hollow”, MEP Kelly, a Member of the EU Parliament’s Trade Committee, said today (Wednesday).
“As the bill moves closer to enactment in the House of Commons, Ireland must look closer at setting up a fast, direct ferry service with Europe for freight transport to avoid post-Brexit disruption on the UK transit route.”
In 2016, the value of trade crossing the land bridge was €18 billion in exports and €3 billion in imports with approximately 150,000 Irish lorries using the land bridge every year, according to the MEP and Leader of Fine Gael in the European Parliament.
“For Ireland’s economic recovery from the pandemic ensuring connectivity with our trading partners through efficient transport corridors is essential, and therefore we must find alternatives. Concerns are heightened as the UK Warns of 7,000-Truck Line at the Dover to Calais crossing in Worst-Case Brexit Scenario.
“We need faster and more frequent routes and to adapt driver regulations, for example counting the time spent on direct ferries as rest time for hauliers, to reduce dependence on the land bridge and ensure Irish products can access markets all over the world”, Mr. Kelly said.