The UKs Freight Transport Association (FTA) has stressed the importance of retaining border controls in Calais in the wake of comments by presidential candidate Alain Juppé that they should be moved back to Dover due to the disastrous image that the migrant issues are presenting of Calais and France.
FTA has consistently called for the Le Touquet Treaty to be maintained following Britains vote to leave the EU in June. The agreement, which has been in place since 2003, allows Britain to carry out checks in Calais to stop migrants trying to get to Britain, while French counterparts can do the same in Dover.
Chris Yarsley, FTAs EU Affairs Manager, said: Moving controls back to Dover would cause cross-Channel chaos and would significantly impact on the frequency of crossings. The layouts of both the Port of Dover and the Folkestone Channel Tunnel terminal would need to be completely redesigned and the number of sailings and shuttles would be limited to the rate at which passport and immigration checks could be completed upon arrival.
FTA says the arrangement is mutually beneficial and any change would be a signal to people smuggling gangs to continue targeting commercial vehicles and their drivers in an effort to reach Britain via the Port of Calais and the Channel Tunnel.
Mr Yarsley said: Scrapping the Treaty and the juxtaposed controls would be short-sighted and counter-productive. FTA repeats its long-held message that attention should be placed on securing the road network on the approaches to the Channel terminals rather than moving the border.
Under international obligations, France is responsible for all asylum claims made on its territory and it should put in place suitable arrangements to allow this to take place.
FTA has long called for proper processing of the 10,000 migrants currently in the Jungle Camp to identify genuine asylum seekers and ensure they get the help they need. The French government has committed to clear the site and relocate its inhabitants to reception centres across France over the next few weeks and FTA anticipates migrants will make desperate last-ditch attempts to board trucks before they are moved.