THE Manche Iles Express could stop sailing between Jersey and France next year.
Jean Morin, who is president of the Manche département, told French media this week that unless post-Brexit border controls in Jersey were changed to make it easier for passengers without passports to travel, local authorities would stop funding the shipping company which runs the service.
‘If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025,’ Mr Morin told Ouest France.
About half of France’s citizens hold a passport, with many owning a carte d’identité or CNI only, which is a government-issued form of identity.
The CNI can be used for travel within the EU, and used to be accepted when entering the UK Common Travel Area.
Holding a valid passport became a requirement from 1 October 2021.
Mr Morin said he hoped for flexibility in the arrangement – at least to allow day-trippers holding just a CNI to visit the Channel Islands.
External Relations Minister Philip Ozouf previously said he was working hard to find a solution.
Asked how soon the use of ID cards could be reinstated, he told the JEP in December that ‘significant progress’ had been made.
‘If this decision can be finalised and put over the line, it will have a very significant impact on next year’s tourist season,’ he said at the time, adding: ‘There is still some dotting of i’s and crossing of t’s to be done.’
This season’s Manche Iles Express sailings are due to begin on Saturday 22 April and conclude at the end of September.
In a statement, Home Affairs Minister Helen Miles said: ‘Securing a mechanism whereby French nationals can travel to Jersey using identity cards is a key priority of mine.
‘Jersey Customs and Immigration officials have been considering the relevant operational, legal, policy, and economic issues – all of which must be considered when making changes to existing policy for the Common Travel Area. We will continue to co-operate closely with our colleagues in the UK as we work towards this objective.’