Brexit ends UK ‘land bridge’ for Ireland-EU trade

The UK land bridge that offered traders the fastest route between Ireland and mainland Europe before Brexit will not re-emerge as a preferred option for moving goods, Dublin’s port chief said on Friday.

The introduction of controls on some goods since the United Kingdom left the commercial orbit of the European Union at the end of 2020 caused a sharp drop in trade between this country and Ireland, a member of the EU, and an increase in maritime routes from Ireland to continental Europe.

The volume of accompanied cargo on the main routes between Dublin and the United Kingdom fell 21%, while the 259,000 units on direct routes to mainland Europe represented a threefold increase, according to figures from Ireland’s largest port.

“The land bridge is gone. It hasn’t come back. I thought it would, but it hasn’t and there’s nothing to suggest it will, because the British have yet to introduce import controls. I don’t think the land bridge recovers,” Dublin Port Director General Eamonn O’Reilly told the Irish Times.

A port spokesman confirmed that the quote was accurate.

For decades, the land bridge offered the fastest and most reliable route to mainland Europe. It involved a short sea crossing between Dublin and Holyhead in Wales, and then a hop between Dover and Calais in France.

The second largest port, Rosslare, in the south-east of the country, has also benefited from the move to direct European routes, while more Irish goods are shipped to the UK via Northern Ireland, as there are no controls in the British-administered region.