POLITICS & INSTITUTIONS - EUROPE

Travel

France partially suspends transit restrictions for Brits



Cars boarding a Eurotunnel train. British residents of the EU who travelled to the UK before 28 December are again being allowed to transit back home via France.  Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Cars boarding a Eurotunnel train. British residents of the EU who travelled to the UK before 28 December are again being allowed to transit back home via France.  Eurotunnel Le Shuttle

Following two days of uncertainty, the French government on Thursday rescinded its temporary travel ban.

British residents of Luxembourg who have travelled to the UK for the Christmas holidays were breathing a sigh of relief on Thursday as they learned they would be able to transit through France back to the grand duchy.

On 28 December, the French government had decoded that “unless they hold French residency, British citizens are now considered 3rd country citizens and can no longer transit France by road to reach their country of residence in the EU.” This had caused confusion at passenger check-in points and passport control at Channel tunnel transport operator Eurotunnel and ferry companies. While social media reports suggested that many British residents of Luxembourg were being allowed through, the news caused some consternation among those who were planning to travel back to Luxembourg.

The British embassy on Thursday morning said it was “urgently seeking clarification from the French government”.

However, by early evening on Thursday the news came through that French Government had suspended the temporary transit ban, but only for those British residents who has travelled to the UK before 28 December. This was confirmed by Eurotunnel and British ambassador to Luxembourg Fleur Thomas on Twitter.

But some advocates for the rights of British citizens in the EU, including Luxembourg resident Fiona Godfrey of British in Europe, were concerned about the seemingly arbitrary suspension of the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. “BiE has written to the Commission tonight asking them to intervene to protect WA rights,” Godfrey tweeted on Thursday evening.

Political commentators, including some in Luxembourg, suggested that the French flexing their muscle was typical before an election--France goes to the polls in April for the first round of voting to elect its president.