Eurotunnel U-turn: Duty free returns as French bureaucracy defeated

Eurotunnel boss reveals bookings are UP post-Brexit

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The sale of duty free products will be able to reopen at the Coquelles terminal of the Eurotunnel, the French government announced on Thursday. The zones were authorised to reopen in the ports of Calais and Dunkirk.

Minister of Public Accounts Olivier Dussopt and Secretary of State for European Affairs Clément Beaune said in a statement: “This decision taken within the framework of a constructive dialogue with the European authorities (…) will make it possible to align the rules applicable to the Eurotunnel with those provided for in airports and seaports for journeys to a third country to the European Union.”

The reopening of duty free zones will be incorporated in an amendment tabled by the government to the amending finance bill.

An examination of the bill began yesterday in the National Assembly, the Ministers confirmed.

They also said it “will not extend to rail transport, which will remain excluded from the scope of duty-free, in accordance with European rules”.

Getlink, Eurotunnel’s operating company, must officially file a request for the opening of a counter, which could take place as early as this summer if the procedure is concluded.

The decision to reopen duty free sales has been praised by the Mayor of Touquet-Paris-Plage, Daniel Fasquelle, who said the government have “finally heard” the demands.

He tweeted: “Restoration of duty free for the Eurotunnel: the government has finally heard the legitimate demand of employees!

“Thanks to the elected officials @xavierbertrand @NatachaBouchart @phdumont @cathfournier who fought and never abandoned this #HautsdeFrance business.”

Xavier Bertrand, president of Hauts-de-France, added: “Thanks to the effort of trade unions, @GetlinkGroup and local elected officials, the government ended up fixing an inequality.

“To fight for duty-free in the tunnel is to fight for jobs and for the people in Calais.

“Our mobilisation paid off!”

The European Travel Retail Confederation (ETRC) also welcomed the news.

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However, they called on the French Government to now apply the same rules to duty free sales at Eurostar terminals serving the cross-Channel market.

ETRC President Nigel Keal said: “ETRC is delighted that the French government have today finally clarified the situation and will allow duty free sales.

“We are particularly pleased that this decision has been taken as France starts to open up again and summer tourism and travel between the UK and France kicks off.

“We do however call upon the French authorities to take a further step and allow duty free sales at the Eurostar terminals in France for UK-bound passengers.

“By doing that, they will ensure a true level playing field between all UK-France transport operators.

“The UK have already decided to allow duty free sales in all UK Eurostar terminals.”

Getlink’s owner, Jacques Gounon, previously criticised French bureaucracy and the French government’s procrastination penalising Eurotunnel duty free.

He argued French ports, and especially Calais, continued to have the right to resume tax-free sales after the Brexit agreement.

Mr Gounon demanded duty free ports must reopen in Coquelles to offer British travellers the French products they love.

Additional reporting by Maria Ortega

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