French officials have welcomed new arrangements that will allow their citizens to enter Jersey for day trips using only their national identity card - but they don’t know yet if Manche Îles Express will continue sailing to France next year.
Jersey struck a deal last week which will allow French visitors to enter the island using only their national identity card, or CNI.
This pilot project will last from 22 April to 30 September this year.
Responding yesterday, President of the Manche Département, Jean Morin, said: "I was happy to welcome this news, it's something we and the Jersey's government had been talking about for almost two years already.:
M. Morin says that he is still waiting for a similar arrangement in Guernsey.
Before Brexit, French citizens were able to enter the island using only their CNI. Since Brexit, they have had to use their passports – but only half of the passengers coming from France own a passport, says M. Morin.
Pictured: Jean Morin, President of the Manche Département, welcomed the arrangement.
Since the introduction of passport controls, ferries from France went from being 80% full to 40%.
Manche Îles Express, which provides ferries between Jersey and France, previously warned that they might stop their service to Jersey if no solution was found.
M. Morin said he hadn’t spoken to Manche Îles Express yet, but that funding the ferries is becoming increasingly expensive - particularly when boats aren’t full enough.
Manche Îles Express is funded by the local authority, which spends €2 million a year on the ships. At its current occupancy, Manche Îles Express receives €200 from the Département per passenger, on top of the €70 cost of a return ticket.
“We need to make a decision by June. But it’s a strong encouragement,” he said.
“I had warned our friends in Jersey's Government that we couldn’t do this by ourselves. So I am meeting [Economic Development Minister] Kirsten Morel in April, who is very conscious of the difficulties we’re facing.”
M. Morin said more work needs to be done, “since at the moment, we don’t have an answer from Guernsey on the passport question and I don’t know if they’ve worked on this point”. He also suggested port taxes could be an avenue for savings.
“There is work to do, but I’m happy to work with the Channel Islands because it’s relationship of trust,” he said. “We have links that go back in time, and that have been preserved, and we need to work together. This is a huge step forward that already allows us to see the future differently.”
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