Rail News

Eurotunnel and EY Present Report on UK–EU Channel Tunnel Trade Flows

Eurotunnel and EY have released a new report on EU–UK Channel Tunnel trade flows. The report describes the traffic flow between the UK and its 5 principal partners in the European Union: Germany, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Ireland. The survey revealed that the amount of trade via the Tunnel had increased to almost €140 billion from 2014, including approximately equal amounts of imports and exports. In addition to freight, millions of passengers also use the Tunnel to travel between the UK and continental Europe.

The analysis of the different sectoral flows in the report illustrates that speed and efficiency are the most important factors in persuading traders and travellers to use the tunnel. Much of the produce and parts that are transported through the Fixed Link are incredibly time-sensitive, either because of their role in just-in-time production or because of their perishable nature.

Diagram of Channel Tunnel
© Getlink


The Tunnel is a vital link in the trading relationship between the automotive industries in the UK and Germany. The industry, which provides 818,000 jobs in Germany, is dependent on its sales market in the UK. Multiple phases of the supply chain for the production of German cars are also based in the UK.


In 2016 France imported €5.8 billion of postal and courier freight from the UK and exported €4 billion of the same goods to it.


34.4 % of UK exports to Spain go via the Channel Tunnel. In 2016 more than a fifth all of UK–Spanish trade went via the Fixed Link.


The UK is the Netherlands’ second-largest market for its annual export of €5.6bn of flowers, plants and bulbs, much of which is transported through the Tunnel. Overall, the UK market for same-day and next-day delivery between 2012 and 2016 has increased by almost 100% from 4.4 billion to 8.1 billion euros.


The Tunnel also provides a land bridge for Irish industries, including medicines and pharmaceuticals, to access their markets on the continent.

Professor L Alan Winters, Director of the UK Trade Policy Observatory, and Professor of Economics at the University of Sussex, said:

“While many pieces of information have required extrapolation or estimation, the team has been meticulous in doing this conservatively and in line with as many other sources of data as are available. Thus not only are the detailed figures in the report unlikely to be misleading, but the broad conclusions should command considerable confidence. Throughout the analysis the team has been open to challenge and very clear about what they have done and its reliability.”

Peter Arnold, Partner, Economic Advisory at EY, said:

Brexit may well represent a significant change in the economic and political relationship between the UK and the EU, but the Channel Tunnel will retain a critical role as a facilitator of economic and cultural links between the two. Sustaining current traffic flows will ensure the growth achieved to date continues.”

Jacques Gounon, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Getlink, which operates the Tunnel and commissioned the report, stated:

“The Channel Tunnel is more than just a vital link between Great Britain and continental Europe, it is a physical connection, a vector for development and a creator of value. Maintaining this dynamic must remain a priority for the whole of Europe, to the benefit of all its people.”

The report was presented to MEPs and other policymakers at a workshop in Brussels on 4 June, 2018.

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