French Brexit strike causes frontier headaches

In addition to a planned rise in wages, the government also pledged to recruit additional 700 officers to handle British passengers' check, who will no longer have European passports once Britain leaves the European bloc.

French customs officers, who had been staging a work-to-rule strike over Brexit since March, were expected to end their industrial action on Wednesday, suggesting a return to normal traffic of Eurostar trains, the operator said on Tuesday.

Eurostar, which is majority-owned by the French state rail operator SNCF, had recommended, passengers not to travel from Paris this period unless absolutely necessary. On March 29, it had expected traffic disruption until April 3.

In early March, French customs began work-to-rule strikes in the Channel ports of Dunkirk and Calais, northern France, as they followed regulations in detail to reduce efficiency and increase time.

Their action triggered severe delays and cancellations. At Paris’ Gare du Nord railway station, where Eurostar trains leave for London, the strikes forced the operator to cut the services of four trains last Friday and by two trains at the weekend.

As a hard Brexit is looming, French customs officers are demanding higher pay and better working conditions to face the eventual pressure that Britain departure may trigger.

On March 12, French Budget Minister Gerald Darmanin announced “strong measures”, worth 14 million euros (15.68 million U.S. dollars), to improve customs officers’ working conditions.

In addition to a planned rise in wages, the government also pledged to recruit additional 700 officers to handle British passengers’ check, who will no longer have European passports once Britain leaves the European bloc.