Union des Ports de France, the French ports association, shares the opinion of the European Commission that the alignment of the North Sea Mediterranean (NSM) corridor needs to be revised due to the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU as from March 2019 combined to the complexity to reach any transitional arrangement that may be contained in a possible withdrawal arrangement.
While 80% of the Irish road freight that reaches mainland Europe passes today through the UK, the alignment of the NSM corridor should actually ensure enhanced connectivity of Ireland with continental Europe by improving inland and maritime (including Motorways of the Sea) access to ports.
The direct maritime links between Ireland and continental EU should indeed reflect the geography and the current flows. “Core” ports of the mainland part of the NSM corridor as well as “Comprehensive” ports should be affected by this realignment.
Union des Ports de France therefore supports the NSM corridor’s alignment to French ports located in the Channel – North Sea.
Some of these ports are “Core” ports of the NSM corridor, such as Calais and Dunkirk, but there are also other French “Core” ports which are part of the Atlantic corridor. For instance, Le Havre-Rouen-Paris is a North-Western European hub with a major role to play in the connectivity of Ireland. Other ports are on the comprehensive network mainly served by ferries ensuring links with the United Kingdom and /or Ireland, such as ports of Roscoff and Brest located at 14h from Cork and at 17h from Dublin, ports of Caen located at 20h30 from Dublin, or such as port of Cherbourg, located at 19h hours from Dublin by sea, where 85% of the traffic comes from and goes to Ireland.
Union des Ports de France also supports the realignment of the Atlantic corridor in light of Brexit, based on a geographical approach of the maritime link, allowing French ports of this corridor to ensure the continuity between Ireland and South-Western Europe, such as port of Nantes Saint-Nazaire and others French Atlantic ports, from Brittany to Spanish border.
For Union des Ports de France, the adjustment of these two corridors represents the most effective and efficient way to ensure the continuity of traffic flows with Ireland but also a greater cohesion within the EU.
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