Boris Johnson’s plans for a new link between the UK and Europe could be coming closer to reality after Eurotunnel, which manages the Channel Tunnel, said it had contacted the Government to discuss the proposals.
Speaking to The Independent, Eurotunnel spokesman John Keefe, said: “As part of the Treaty of Canterbury and the Concession Agreement which established the Channel Tunnel, Eurotunnel has the right to build the next fixed link. Because of this we have written to the Government and said ‘let’s have a chat’. There’s no more to it than that.”
Eurotunnel added: “Mr Johnson’s comments are a good endorsement for a fixed link across the English Channel. Whether it’s a bridge or a tunnel, which would be decided on environmental grounds, Eurotunnel would be part of the process.”
The Treaty of Canterbury was signed by British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and French President François Mitterrand in 1986 and is the original document providing for the construction of the undersea tunnel between the UK and France.
The Concession Agreement, which was also signed in 1986, entrusts Eurotunnel with the design, financing, construction and operation of the Channel Tunnel for a period of 55 years. The concession was later extended to 2086.
The comments come after a report by The Telegraph, detailing a letter to the Prime Minister from Eurotunnel, which included comments from the company’s French chief executive, Jacques Gounon, who said he is “very interested” in a second fixed link and would be “delighted to start discussions”.
The note from Mr Gounon states: “The idea of a second fixed link is something that we regularly consider in our long term plans and we would be delighted to engage with your officials to explore the possibility further.”
The idea was first put forward by Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson. Mr Johnson said the link, which could function as a bridge between Britain and France, would consolidate the relationship between the countries after Brexit.
Mr Johnson spoke about the project with French President Emmanuel Macron at a summit earlier this year, but his proposal was later criticised by No 10.
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At the time, he tweeted: “En marche! Great meetings with French counterparts today” and added: “I’m especially pleased we are establishing a panel of experts to look at major projects together.
“Our economic success depends on good infrastructure and good connections. Should the Channel Tunnel be just a first step?”