British ferries too cheap: since Brexit, controversy has erupted in the English Channel

British ferries too cheap: since Brexit, controversy has erupted in the English Channel

British Ferries very cheap
Controversy going on in the English Channel since Brexit

Since Britain left the European Union, London has viewed the English Channel as an international waters. This means that looser rules on working conditions on ships apply to ferry traffic – to the detriment of French providers. The dispute is now fought at the highest level.

In France, there is resistance building against dumping competition from Great Britain for ferry services across the English Channel. The French Secretary of State for Maritime Affairs, Hervé Berville, announced in a recent meeting with shipowners that the Ministry of Transport wants to reach an agreement with the new British government on a common framework against social dumping as soon as possible. “The social dumping practiced by some channel shipping companies is unacceptable. These players are fighting a deadly battle,” Burville said. France will increase control of the ships in the short term.

The focus of the protest is British ferry operator P&O Ferries, which surprisingly laid off its entire crew in the spring and replaced them for cheaper labour. The shipping company also operates a ferry service between Dover and Calais. As the newspaper “Le Figaro” reported, Irish Ferries, sailing under the Cypriot flag with low-paid crews, also entered the race on the English Channel connection in spring 2021. They work longer hours at a time than the employees of French Ferries. The Secretary of State said that there should be no place for companies that promote treacherous competition and fall in prices.

Since Brexit, travel across the English Channel is no longer an internal EU connection and the use of foreign staff is allowed on very poor terms. Although French shipowners doubt whether the canal between Calais and Dover, which is only 28 kilometers wide, can be considered international waters, they rely mainly on reasonable agreements with the British side. As the shipping newspaper “Le Journal de la Marine Marchande” reported, the British had drawn up a framework agreement in July to protect seafarers who regularly sail with their ships to Great Britain, even though Under which flag do they go?

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