Whether more French wine will travel to the United Kingdom via the newly opened Channel Tunnel, or more U.K. beer and whiskey to France remains an open question with both the British and French consuls general in Atlanta leaning toward French wine predominating.

At a “Chunnel party” thrown by the British American Business Group (BABG) and the French American Chamber of Commerce (FACC) at the residence of French Consul General Gerard Blanchot Oct. 20  these and other vital issues to European harmony were considered in a spirit of “good cheer.”

The officials indicated that the Tunnel’s completion — the world’s longest undersea crossing — defied geographic and historical divisions separating Britain from the continent, and that it inevitably would contribute to their further integration.

British Consul General David Wright even toasted French President Francois Mitterand and commented that Britain now was firmly tied to the continent.  Mr. Blanchot reciprocated by toasting the Brits and confessed that he hoped many in the festive crowd would make use of the Tunnel because he owned stock in it.

In the midst of the festivities was a booth of Mott MacDonald, a U.K-based  engineering firm which was a principal design consultant for all civil and geotechnical engineering on the U.K. section of the Tunnel.  Derek F. Hickman, the company’s representative in Atlanta, expressed relief that the project, which dates back to early conceptual work in the mid-1970s, was finally completed.

Eurotunnel, the Anglo-French channel-tunnel consortium, has been hurt by start-up delays in passenger service, but its “Le Shuttle” service for passengers will reach full service by the end of the year.

Eurostar rail service connecting London with Paris and Brussels will begin in mid-November.  The long-awaited service will take three hours between London and Paris and three hours and 15 minutes between London and Brussels.