Last Saturday of July at the port of Calais. A Saturday crossover of the summer that goes by in peace. Nothing like the bustle at the port of Dover a week earlier. From Friday, July 22, huge traffic jams had forced the English to wait several hours in Dover before being able to embark for France. The English port and the British authorities had accused the French of ruining the holidays of their compatriots.
In the middle of this weekend of chaos, the prefect of Hauts-de-France, Georges-François Leclerc, spoke at a press conference to respond to the British. The latter had then admitted a delay in taking up the post of several reinforcements of border police officers, planned for what was the first real big departure on vacation on the English side.
“It will go very quickly! »
Incidentally, the prefect recalled the obligation to have each passport stamped for circulars between the two countries since the United Kingdom left the European Union. In other words: Brexit also slows down border crossings.
“Before Brexit, there were already checks by the French police and the English police. The formalities were less. Today, they are a little more complicated, especially for heavy goods vehicles… For passengers, Brexit has not changed much,” tempers Jean-Marc Puissesseau, CEO of the Calais-Boulogne port.
From the top of the public belvedere of the new headquarters of the Calais-Boulogne port, the view of the traffic is panoramic. Jean-Marc Puissesseau talks about this new port that he imagined in 2003 and of which he is preparing to leave the management in mid-August. On his left, he points to the Opal Coasta ship of the Danish company DFDS landing. “You will see, it will go very quickly! » It is 9:50 am, dozens of cars, steering wheels on the right and trunks on the roof, tumble on the roads of the port to join the A25, the so-called motorway of the English, and head south. “The English were in a hurry to come, they had been prevented for so long”, smiled the CEO of the port.
So, no question for the two countries to miss a new summer weekend. Quickly, the confrontation gave way to a reflection on the cooperation between the two countries, to prevent the episode of Dover from happening again. Each promising to ensure the proper sizing of its police force. “Despite the meetings and the excellent relations with each other, there can always be bugs. It is absolutely necessary to have perfect synchronization and that the right number of booths are open, otherwise there is chaos,” asks Jean-Marc Puissesseau.
Below, these famous control booths, which open and close depending on the crowd, form three parallel lines resembling successive tolls. The trucks, less numerous at the weekend, smoke the right-hand lanes. The cars slide to the left. You must first present your tickets at the counter of one of the three ferry companies. Then show your credentials to the police at the French and then English borders.
“Over a lot of room here. There’s no reason for it to slow down.” believes President Puissesseau. Provided therefore that the employees of the maritime companies and that the French and English police are in sufficient number to ensure a smooth crossing of the border, at each checkpoint. For this Saturday, everyone seems to have taken their responsibilities: in terms of departures and arrivals, everything is going well.