De Jong: Pull out all the stops to guarantee safety of truck drivers

16 June 2015

De Jong: Pull out all the stops to guarantee safety of truck drivers

Last week the alarming situation in Calais was much in the news. Tensions between truck drivers and migrants trying to get to England as stowaways intensify by the day. SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong is pulling out all the stops: France, Belgium and the Netherlands must together ensure, in the short term, the safety of the drivers. The European Commission can help, including financially. ‘I have contact with all of those involved and expect the situation to improve rapidly. In the end, however, the cause of the problem will have to be addressed. What that means is that the failed European asylum policy must be revised.’

Foto: SP

In the European Parliament De Jong has established a cross-party group of MEPs concerned about the issue. The group’s focus is on abuses in the road freight transport sector, such as the exploitation and displacement of drivers. The group has also looked into the situation in Calais and just this week has sent a letter to the relevant French government ministers requesting that concrete measures be taken to address the problem. In addition, De Jong has written to the European Commissioner for Transport Violeta Bulc asking her if she can arrange a meeting in the near future with a delegation from both sides of the road freight transport industry.

´It’s noticeable that due to the large increase in the number of migrants in and around Calais the French government itself does acknowledge the problem,’ says De Jong. ‘They were originally intending to adapt the infrastructure in Calais at the end of this year, but now this will have to be in place by late summer. It is, however, important to keep up the pressure on the French, because if you go there and look into everything which has still to be done in order to ensure the drivers quick and safe access to the Channel Tunnel, then you have to ask yourself how this can be achieved in two months. That’s why we wrote to the French government ministers and why if necessary we will take a whole delegation of MEPs to Paris.´

A further problem is the British policy of imposing stiff fines on Dutch and other drivers who, despite all of the precautionary measures, are found with migrants on board their lorries. ‘I’ve contacted the British authorities about this,’ De Jong explains. ‘They agree with me that Dutch drivers in general behave correctly and are not guilty of people-smuggling for gain. This week I’ve demanded written confirmation of their policy which they say is not to fine drivers who have voluntarily submitted to all the checks and have in addition kept to the British code of conduct. The British have promised to supply me with this information shortly.’

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