ROSSLARE, (Ireland): The Irish port of Rosslare has seen a staggering increase in traffic since the Brexit transition period ended, as hauliers seek new routes bypassing Britain to link the Republic with the EU.
“Since the first of January, we’ve seen a 476-percent increase in freight to mainland Europe when compared to last year,” port manager Glenn Carr told AFP.
“We’ve gone from three direct services a week to mainland Europe to now 15.”
Jutting out of the morning fog, a giant ferry makes its landing from the French port of Dunkirk — tracing a new route opened by Danish firm DFDS on January 2.
Soon afterwards, a ship from Cherbourg pulls alongside and lowers its ramp — churning the slate-grey waters of the harbour on Ireland’s southeast coast.
Meat trucks and tankers roll onto the dock. Drivers work together — shouting in French — to delicately reverse a flatbed packed with farm machinery. Spanish hauliers wait in their cabs for the sailing to Bilbao.
On the sloping approach to the docks, a sign welcomes the steady stream of traffic to “Rosslare Europort: the gateway to Europe”.
Britain left the EU in January 2020 after a seismic referendum in 2016 which voted to sever ties with the bloc. But the full effects were felt only with the end of the so-called “transition period” at the start of 2021.
With Britain now outside the customs union and the single market, new checks and paperwork are snarling traffic at the island nation’s borders.
Delays and hurdles mean Irish hauliers are re-thinking the UK’s “landbridge” route they have traditionally taken to EU markets.
Pre-Brexit, more than 150,000 trucks transported three million tonnes of freight to and from the EU in this way — driving across Britain, crossing the Irish Sea and English Channel by ferry.