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UK France row: London seeks explanation after its nationals banned from transiting across France

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Switzerland-France border (Photo by AFP)

The British government is asking for immediate explanation from France after the government in Paris banned the UK nationals from traveling by car through the country to reach the other European Union states.

UK Commonwealth and Development Office wrote in a statement on Thursday, “We are urgently seeking further clarification from the French government.”

In its latest travel advice, the UK foreign office has advised its “nationals returning to other European countries via France to check with their carrier before travelling.”

The development comes as the French authorities prohibited UK nationals, including those based in the UK or the EU, from transiting France to return to their country of residence, “unless they are travelling by air.”

All those wishing to travel from the UK to France, regardless of vaccination status, can only do so for essential reasons, the statement reads. Non-essential travels have been banned since October 18, in an attempt to stop the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus.

The decision will affect the families and individuals who are set to spend their Christmas holidays with friends and relatives in the UK and would seek to go back to their homes in the EU countries.

The British Embassy in Belgium has tweeted that it is aware that “some British nationals seeking to return home to Belgium from the UK by road via France are experiencing difficulties” and it is “urgently seeking clarifications from the French government.”

According to the French Interior Ministry, after UK withdrawal from the EU, British people are accounted as “third-country nationals” and it therefore “seems logical” that travelers from the UK should not be allowed to “transit to another EU country” through France.

Paris and London have been at loggerheads for months over a couple of issues, including immigration crisis and fishing rights.

France says Britain has refused to grant its fishermen the full number of licenses warranted to operate in British waters. The UK claims that the rejected French boats have not been able to provide the required documents for obtaining a license.

Analysts say relations between the two sides have been at their lowest point during the past decades due to tensions over a range of issues such as Brexit, traveling restrictions and a submarine contract with Australia.

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