In an announcement published by the European Parliament, news has come that the underwater tunnel connecting the UK and France will continue to operate safely and effectively, after the UK is classified as a third country to the EU.
The goal of reaching an agreement between France and the UK is to enable the two parties to maintain the same rules and regulations regarding the railway tunnel after the UK’s exit from the EU.
France will have the authority to negotiate the deal with the UK, as granted by the Parliament, and will keep the Intergovernmental Commission as the main authority for safety for the tunnel.
“The legislation will empower France to negotiate a new international agreement with the UK and maintain the Intergovernmental Commission as the main safety authority for the Eurotunnel,” the announcement reads.
Negotiations between France and the UK will “begin without delay,” according to the announcement.
The vote to empower France to negotiate with the UK passed with 687 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 4 abstentions. The vote regarding the application of railway safety and interoperability rules within the Channel Fixed Link was passed with 687 votes in favor, 3 votes against, and 4 abstentions.
If there is no official agreement reached by the date of 01 January 2021, national safety authorities in both the UK and France would have authority over their own halves of the tunnel, respectively. Further, EU regulations would no longer apply to the UK’s half of the tunnel.
The Channel Tunnel is a 50km long underwater tunnel running beneath the Straight of Dover in the English Channel. The average depth is 40km; the tunnel connects Folkstone in Kent, UK, with Coquelles in Pas-de-Calais, France. The Channel Tunnel, opening in 1994, is one of the longest underwater tunnels in the world, as well as one of the most heavily used.
Any current or future agreement between France and the UK is not yet known.