Calais: EU Transport Commissioner ‘disappointed’ at failure of Dutch government to act

7 July 2015

Calais: EU Transport Commissioner ‘disappointed’ at failure of Dutch government to act

Foto: SP

A delegation from Transport and Logistics Netherlands (TLN), a truck driver who regularly makes the crossing to England, and SP Euro-MP Dennis de Jong met with European Transport Commissioner Violeta Bulc to discuss the problems in Calais. ‘The Commissioner agreed with the actions we proposed,’ said De Jong. ‘She is going to put maximum pressure on the British to amend their policy on fines and on both them and the French to rapidly improve facilities at the Eurotunnel. At the same time she expressed disappointment at the lack of action from the minister responsible, Melanie Schultz Van Haegen. The two had a meeting recently on the matter, but the promised letter from the minister has not been received by the Commissioner. This letter will have to come this week, however, so that Bulc can take things further.’

The TLN delegation included Maarten de Graauw of international hauliers Wim Bosman (Mainfreight). According to De Graauw, there’s nothing wrong with the UK’s regulations on the imposition of fines on drivers, except that they are wrongly applied. ‘If an enterprise is accredited with the British and the drivers stick to the British code of conduct in repelling stowaways, and in addition go through all the checks, no fines should be imposed, even if it turns out that there is nevertheless a stowaway on board.’

Frans de Jong, a driver who makes the crossing from Calais to England three times per week, brought along some penetrating photographs of the situation at the Channel port and was optimistic following the meeting. ‘For a gear-chain to work, every link needs to function well,’ he said. ‘At any rate, now at least one of the links has been oiled.’

On 17th July De Jong will once again join a delegation of employers and workers to meet with the authorities in Paris. He agreed to inform Bulc of the meeting’s outcome, so that she could herself follow them up. ‘The Commissioner made a dynamic impression, promising for instance that before the summer recess she would set up a horizontal taskforce within the European Commission in order to tackle both sides of the question, migration and transport,’ he said. ‘The problems in Calais have everything to do with the broader migration-connected problems with which the EU is wrestling. Finally, I’m pleased that the Commissioner wants to do something about the queues on the way into Calais, providing special facilities for the drivers so that they can get something to eat and drink and have access to emergency sanitary facilities.’

Declaration of the SP, FNV (main Dutch trade union federation) and TLN, handed to the Commissioner Bulc:

Strasbourg, 07-07-2015

SP, TLN and FNV ask the Commissioner:

1: To urge the French authorities to ensure that in Calais (1) sufficient police is available to prevent drivers from being threatened by illegal immigrants, (2) customs capacity is sufficiently enlarged in order to eliminate traffic jams and guarantee checks when requested, and (3) access roads are monitored and secured; Asks the Commissioner to explore the possibility of making available European funds for these objectives;
2: In order to ensure the free movement of goods, which Member States have to ensure in accordance with the TFEU, to urge the British authorities to annul the current practice of fining drivers who are carrying migrants, in case they or their companies have been accredited, or in other cases that they have taken all recommended measures. This means that the drivers can show that they have followed the UK checklist, and have gone through all available checks. Also, to urge the British authorities to increase the capacity of the UK Border Force with regard to the juxtaposed controls; 3: To assist the French authorities in every way possible in situations of crisis, as seen last week during the strikes and heath wave, in order to guarantee emergency aid; 4: To assist the French government in times of crisis, by temporarily relaxing enforcement obligations for responsible authorities (for example with regard to legislation on the driving and resting time rules, Regulation (EC) No 561/20061); 5: When requested by British, French, Belgium or Dutch authorities, to facilitate dialogue and coordination between the different national authorities; 6: To ensure that the European Commission takes the problems in Calais and the neighbouring ports into account when implementing its Agenda for Migration; 7: Ask the Commission to call on the French authorities to move the migrants who are currently residing in Calais to open or closed reception centres elsewhere.

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