British troops famously left through Dunkirk in wartime but the French port is to become a valuable entry point for Ireland into mainland Europe in the wake of Britain’s departure from the EU.
Danish shipping line DFDS is announced on Friday that a new daily service between Rosslare Europort and Dunkirk that will bypass Britain and serve as another transit route to Europe for Irish importers and exporters.
It will alow them to avoid expected Brexit-related border delays on the UK “landbridge” route and shave hours off the journey for lorries landing at Cherbourg destined for important export markets for Irish companies in the Benelux countries, Germany and beyond.
The direct ferry, taking between 22 and 24 hours, will not be quicker than the landbridge, which can take 13 hours, but the certainty of travel will help traders plan the transport of time-sensitive goods and avoid unpredictable delays due to the need for EU-UK border checks from January 1st.
Arriving directly from Ireland into Dunkirk, which is some 15km from the Belgian border, the service will give Irish traders and transport companies access to major European motorway networks.
The Danish shipping company announced the new roll-on, roll-off service for road freight and passengers this morning in a statement to the Copenhagen stock exchange.
The company said that the new ferry route, bypassing the UK after Brexit, would offer trucks and their drivers “direct and paperless transport between EU countries.”
The company said that the port of Dunkirk “is a gateway to Ireland’s top export markets - France, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands - and a host of secondary markets.”
Additional capacity has been chartered to deploy three freight and passenger ferries on the route that will be “a cost-efficient alternative to driving through the UK,” DFDS said.
“We are extremely pleased to offer Irish and other European businesses a cost-efficient way of trading directly with each other,” said Torben Carlson, chief executive of DFDS.
“There will be no customs formalities or possible waiting times that the Brexit transition potentially may bring about for trucks passing through the UK.”