Brexit project fear DISMANTLED as France says business with UK ‘more attractive’ than ever

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Defying the naysayers, French officials have deployed new “smart border” technology to beat chaos at their ports after the introduction of new post-Brexit trading rules. Trucks are flowing freely between Dover and Calais thanks to the system, which Jean-Michel Thillier, the head customs official for the Haunts-de-France region, insisted has made the route “more attractive than in the past”. Even with new paperwork requirements, he said his team of officers in northern France had managed to process thousands of lorries with ease.

Brussels officials had previously branded such systems “magical thinking” after similar proposals by Brexiteers to minimise border friction.

In an interview with Express.co.uk, Mr Thillier reported there had been no technical hitches since the system was rolled out fully on New Year’s Day and said it is ready to rapidly process more than 10,000 lorries a day.

The official said: “The link between Calais, the United Kingdom and the EU carries characteristics that cannot be found anywhere. The very short duration of the crossing and frequency of the rotation makes this crossing particularly attractive.

“All of the preparatory work carried out by customs to set up a system as automated as possible, integrating the new formalities and the controls requested by the new context, are the reason that now and in the future it is as attractive, and maybe more attractive than in the past.”

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The French government spent £36million on its new border technology that allows firms to complete customs declarations ahead of time.

Paris also hired some 700 customs officials to ensure traffic from Dover – Britain’s busiest port which 10,000 lorries pass through every day – is largely free from disruption.

The new system has also been rolled out for the Eurotunnel rail crossing, which transports over a million trucks a year between Folkestone and Coquelles, northern France.

The majority of vehicles are allowed to proceed without stopping on arrival at ferry ports or the Eurotunnel terminal.

Those shipments with missing payment or flagged as potentially risky can be taken aside for extra checks.

It was said less than 10 percent of lorries are stopped for the additional checks.

Mr Thillier said it had been fully tested by his bolstered team of officers during a slight lull brought on by the coronavirus pandemic and the festive shutdown for many businesses.

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“Nowadays we have approximately  60 percent of the average traffic in Calais and Dunkirk,” he said.

“For us, it was a good thing to have this level of traffic in order to test and train our teams, and the companies we work with, to prepare the comeback of traffic.”

The Port of Dover has also insisted its service remains unaffected despite predictions of huge disruptions from Brexit critics.

Earlier this week a spokesman said: “Traffic is running smoothly at the Port and has been since the beginning of transition.”

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Boris Johnson’s official spokesman said the Government had worked hard to ensure businesses were ready for the new trading relationship between the UK and EU.

He said: “We’ve put in place significant plans to minimise disruption following the exit from the single market and the customs union.

“The number of problems since the start of the new year has been low and was expected.

“We continue to work with businesses to ensure they prepared and ready for the customs checks and to ensure they know what they need to do between the short strait.”

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