Look at France! EU chief lists Brexit ‘catastrophes’ similar to problems in his own
Brexit: Expert hits out at ‘lazy’ supply chain criticism
Britain completed its departure from the European Union at the end of last year following an 11th hour Brexit trade deal after several months of tense and often bitter negotiations. But over recent weeks, the UK has suffered from a supply chain crisis, with a fuel shortage triggering a panic-buying frenzy at the petrol pumps. A huge shortage of HGV drivers – many of whom returned to their home country during the Covid pandemic but never returned – has also led to empty supermarket shelves, increasing fears families might be without some of their favourite foods this Christmas.
Remainers have been quick to blame Brexit for these problems as they continue to campaign for the UK to one day rejoin the EU.
Now Thierry Breton, the French politician who is also the European Commission’s internal market commissioner, has described Brexit as an “economic catastrophe” for the UK, while listing a host of problems the country has been experiencing over recent weeks.
He said during an interview with French broadcaster BFMTV: “It’s an economic disaster.
“Look at what is happening on the supermarket shelves, look at what is happening at the petrol pumps, look at what is happening with the shortage of nurses and doctors, look at what is happening with the shortage of truck drivers, look at what is happening in the construction sector.
Brexit news: Thierry Breton launched a furious attack against the UK
Brexit news: Thierry Breton branded the UK’s departure from the EU an ‘economic catastrophe’
“What is currently happening is a real drama.”
He added: “Consider that after they said they could regain prosperity, which meant to some extent that every EU national would be kicked out — at least a large part of them — well now they need to come back, because nurses are missing.
“There are 100,000 truck drivers missing.”
A global surge in oil and gas prices that – triggered by a spike in demand and supply shortages – has seen prices at petrol pumps rise sharply.
Brexit news: France has also been hit heavily by some of the issues listed by Thierry Breton
France has been hit heavily by this, especially in rural areas and on the edges of towns where people depend on their cars.
Last week, Emmanuel Macron’s Government announced plans for a €100 (£85) handout for people on low to middle incomes while promising to freeze petrol prices in an attempt to calm growing anger over surging fuel prices and living costs.
Prime Minister Jean Castex said the one-off “inflation payout”, which is set to begin from the end of December, would be handed to those earning less than €2,000 net a month, including private and public sector workers, the self-employed, job seekers and retirees.
He added this would affect some 38 million people in France, while petrol prices would also be “frozen” for the entirety of next year.
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Brexit news: France could be facing a lorry driver shortage
Brexit news: Petrol prices have surged in France
France could also be facing a lorry driver shortage after leaving Mr Macron red-faced by demanding a pay rise equal to post-Brexit Britain’s.
The lack of HGV drivers in the UK has seen some supermarkets promoting haulier jobs with salaries as high as almost £57,000 a year.
But the French inter-union representing the employees of the national collective agreement of road transport (CCNTR) has asked the Government to reassess wages and add a 13th month “for all” or else assume “all the consequences”.
The group composed of the CFDT, CGT, FO, CFTC and CFE-CGC wrote: “All sectors of the CCNTR are currently experiencing extreme tension and an unprecedented shortage of employees.
Brexit news: The UK lorry driver shortage
“We can no longer tolerate this lack of consideration”, the inter-union statement underlined, denouncing the quest for “profit to the detriment of the essential players, who tirelessly ensure the continuity of these economic activities”.
The unions also called for the “revaluation of all pay scales in all sectors covered by the CCNTR on a minimum basis of two figures”.
Currently in France, all people working in the road transport industry are on the minimum wage, except for a small group that is at one cent above the minimum when hired.
A recent report by Transport Intelligence also found mainland Europe is being hit hard by the lorry driver shortage, estimated to be at around 400,000 drivers.
It found that since 2019, France has faced a shortage of around 43,000 drivers.
France is also facing a health service crisis after some 20,000 nurses and other healthcare workers were suspended last month and face possible dismissal for failing to comply with a deadline to be vaccinated against Covid.
The present shortage of healthcare workers has predominantly been triggered by nurses and assistants leaving their jobs this year over frustration with low pay and excessive work during the pandemic, the National Union of Professional Nurses said.
The union added last month: “It’s a vicious circle. In addition 10 per cent of nurses are off work on health grounds.”