- Since Brexit, in January 2021, only the ports had obtained the right to open shops of duty-free products.
- Getlink, formerly Eurotunnel, then denounced a distortion of competition.
- On Friday, the Tunnel operator finally announced that the French government had granted it permission to open a “duty free” in Coquelles.
On Wednesday, the operator of the Channel Tunnel, Getlink, was still fulminating at not being able to open a “duty free” on the French side, for lack of authorization granted by the government since Brexit. 20 Minutes then relayed what the former Eurotunnel considered to be a “distortion of competition” to the benefit of the northern ports. Miraculously, the situation has just been unblocked.
In the negotiations for the implementation of Brexit, the question of the return of duty-free shops had been raised for a long time by cross-Channel operators, in this case the ports and Getlink. However, when it officially entered into force last January, only the ports in the north of France had been authorized to set up duty free within their infrastructures. For the Tunnel, the government’s “no” had aroused misunderstanding.
“A fair and equitable competitive situation”
According to Getlink, the French government and Europe were passing the buck to determine which authority was empowered to decide the issue. Obviously, it was France because it was ultimately France who finally acceded to the request of the operator of the Tunnel. “A quality government process makes it possible to achieve a fair and equitable competitive situation between cross-Channel players,” the management of Getlink said on Friday.
“As our employees, local stakeholders and elected officials know, who understand the challenges, duty free will be beneficial for our jobs as well as for the entire territory,” insists Yann Leriche, CEO of the infrastructure. On Wednesday, a Getlink spokesperson had in fact told 20 Minutes that the opening of duty-free shops in Coquelles would create a hundred jobs.