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European Commission 'can't intervene' in Calais crisis or Operation Stack

The European Commission says it can do nothing to intervene in the Calais crisis or the disruption caused by Operation Stack amid claims it is failing to use its powers.

North Thanet MP Sir Roger Gale said it was time for the Commission to act to help deal with both issues using its authority under key treaties.

He said: “It is time the Commission stepped up to the plate and indicated what, precisely, it intends to do to ensure European road hauliers and domestic travellers can enjoy their much-vaunted “freedom of movement” lawfully while taking measures to ensure that illegal immigrants are controlled within the borders over which they claim jurisdiction.”

Migrant activity in Calais. Library image: @daftnelly.
Migrant activity in Calais. Library image: @daftnelly.

But in a statement, a Commission spokesman said that while it regretted the delays and disruption being caused by Operation Stack, there was nothing it could do.

The spokesman said the Commission was “well aware” of the situation in Calais but the responsibility lay with French authorities.

“The commission is aware of the situation in Calais and is ready to help the French authorities cope with the number of asylum seekers present in the region. Indeed, it recently awarded €3.78m in emergency funding to France to deal with the situation.

"Between 2014-2020 the Commission has earmarked around €85m for France for actions dealing with irregular migration.

"However, preventing migrants from physically boarding lorries and trains at Calais is a national police competence. The commission has no authority in this matter.”

The plan will make Operation Stack a thing of the past. Stock picture
The plan will make Operation Stack a thing of the past. Stock picture

The spokesman added the Commission also regretted the congestion caused to “traffic flows.”

“We are always concerned about any issue that negatively affects the free flow of transport.

"Under the so-called Strawberry Regulation (2679/98) the French authorities have notified us of the obstacles to the free flow of goods and are keeping us updated on the situation on a regular basis.”

It added the issue of strikes in Calais “falls outside the Commission’s competences.”

“The situation in Calais is another example of the need for a greater level of solidarity and responsibility in the way we deal with migratory pressures in Europe.”

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