Paris stresses importance of cooperation with UK after Brexit transition period

Brexit – Future of the agreements signed with the United Kingdom in the context of Brexit – Reply by the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a written question in the National Assembly

Paris, 5 May 2020

Since the United Kingdom is not a member of the Schengen Area, rules on land and maritime border crossings are laid down in bilateral treaties between France and the United Kingdom, the implementation of which is not called into question by Britain’s decision to leave the European Union.

Firstly, the Le Touquet treaty, signed on 4 February 2003, established juxtaposed controls at the maritime border in Channel and North Sea ports. Three lots of maritime juxtaposed controls are currently in operation in the ports of Dover in the United Kingdom, and Calais and Dunkirk in France.

Following the migration crisis of 2015 and given the need to develop the legal framework for Franco-British cooperation on migration management, France and the United Kingdom signed a new treaty at the Sandhurst summit on 18 January 2018 relating to the reinforcement of cooperation for the coordinated management of their shared border.

The Sandhurst Treaty establishes a legal framework guaranteeing the continuity of the essential aspects of our joint cooperation commitments concerning the border and migration. It provides for increased security at the border in France as well as in and around the cross-Channel ports. It sets out joint measures to implement in the framework of sustained cooperation on policing, security and criminal justice.

The Sandhurst Treaty also strengthens the shared commitments on processing international protection applications, the smooth management of migratory flows, the fight against people trafficking and organized crime, inter alia through increased cooperation with third countries and the actual implementation of removal measures, in strict compliance with our international obligations on human rights protection.

In this context, the opening of the Joint Information and Coordination Centre (CCIC) in Coquelles in November 2018 was an important milestone in strengthening the effectiveness of our cooperation with the British. The CCIC aims to facilitate information exchanges and coordination between police and intelligence services, particularly as regards the prevention and management of threats to public order, increased migratory pressure and the fight against people-smuggling and organized crime rings.

The Centre has been an important milestone in strengthening the effectiveness of our cooperation with the British. With the increasing number of attempted illegal crossings on small boats to the United Kingdom from December 2018, a joint action plan was also signed in January 2019 by the French Interior Minister and British Home Secretary, providing inter alia for Britain to pay nearly €7 million towards the cost of equipment (particularly for coastal security: beach-accessible vehicles, night-vision equipment) and towards work to secure infrastructure (stepping up security at the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer). Among other things, the plan, which is helping to strengthen interception capabilities, allowed the police to intercept around 60 embarkations, totalling 686 passengers, in French waters over the first 10 months of 2019.

As regards relations between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the withdrawal agreement which came into force on 31 January 2020 provides for a transition period lasting until at least 30 December – which may be extended by the joint decision of the United Kingdom and the EU before 1 July 2020 –, during which the provisions of EU law shall continue to apply in the United Kingdom as they did when it was a member State, without it participating in the EU decision-making process.

Following the transition period, EU law will cease to apply in the United Kingdom, which will have become a third State. The purpose of the transition period opened up by the withdrawal agreement is to allow arrangements for the future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom to be worked out, in the framework of a negotiation which began on 2 March 2020 between the British negotiating team and that of the EU, led by Michel Barnier.

For the EU, the future partnership with the United Kingdom should include provisions on the fight against illegal migration. Indeed the EU’s negotiating directives, which the 27 member States’ European affairs ministers adopted on 25 February 2020 and which constitute negotiator-in-chief Michel Barnier’s mandate for conducting the discussions, devote a section to this.

The EU would like the envisaged partnership to develop “cooperation to tackle irregular migration of nationals other than those of the Parties, including its drivers and consequences, whilst recognizing both the need to protect the most vulnerable and the United Kingdom’s future status of a non Schengen third country that does not provide for the free movement of persons.”

This cooperation should, inter alia, include “cooperation with Europol to combat organized immigration crime in line with arrangements for the cooperation with third countries set out in the relevant Union legislation”, and “a dialogue on shared objectives and on cooperation, including in third countries and international fora, to tackle irregular migration upstream.”

Finally, in the area of asylum, a statement by the Commission annexed to the decision to open negotiations with the United Kingdom envisages engaging in a dialogue with the United Kingdom on asylum cooperation, should the United Kingdom request it and when it is in the EU’s interest.

The provisions actually envisaged for the future of relations with the United Kingdom will depend on the outcome of the negotiations, in the framework of which France is fully mobilizing to reach an ambitious, balanced partnership, capable of responding to the shared challenges for the future of relations with the United Kingdom, in the area of migration in particular./.

Brexit – Defence cooperation/France/United Kingdom – Reply by the Office of the Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a written question in the National Assembly

Paris, 5 May 2020

1 – The negotiations between the European Union and the United Kingdom on their future relations, first, and, second, the bilateral relationship between France and the United Kingdom in the framework of the Lancaster House Treaty, are two very distinct subjects which are not meant to interfere with each other.

2 – The withdrawal agreement, which came into force on 31 January 2020, allowed the United Kingdom to exit the EU in an orderly way, including a transition period lasting until at least 31 December 2020, during which EU law continues to apply. This period must allow us to define the terms of the future partnership between the EU and the United Kingdom when it becomes a third State, in the framework of negotiations between the two parties. Security cooperation is one of the main components of the negotiations, begun on 2 March 2020. With a view to these negotiations, the EU defined its principles and objectives through the Council’s adoption on 25 February 2020 of a mandate which sets the road map for the European negotiating team, led by Michel Barnier within the European Commission. Regarding security, the mandate envisages the establishment of a “broad, comprehensive and balanced” partnership, taking into account “geographic proximity and evolving threats, including serious international crime, terrorism, cyber attacks, disinformation campaigns, hybrid threats, the erosion of the rules-based international order and the resurgence of State-based threats.” The desired partnership has both an external dimension, through cooperation in the area of foreign policy, security and defence, and an internal dimension in terms of police and judicial cooperation in criminal matters, including through operational cooperation with the Europol and Eurojust agencies, “in line with arrangements for the cooperation with third countries set out in relevant Union legislation.” On 18 March 2020, the Commission published a draft agreement which lays down these lines of approach. The draft devotes a whole section to security cooperation, covering the fight against money laundering and terrorist financing, cyber security and data exchanges (Passenger Name Record, Prüm). Two chapters are dedicated to cooperation with Europol and Eurojust. At the same time, the draft includes provisions relating to foreign policy, security and defence, opening up the possibility of involvement in EU missions and operations, as well as provisions relating to sanctions, intelligence exchanges, space cooperation and the development of defence capabilities.

3 – In the United Kingdom, the government published a document entitled “The Future Relationship with the EU – The UK’s Approach to Negotiations”, which presents the British party’s guidelines and objectives in its negotiations with the European Union. The British party says it is in favour of police and judicial cooperation under certain conditions. On the other hand, unlike the EU, the United Kingdom does not envisage institutionalized arrangements relating to foreign policy, security and defence.

4 – The starting positions are therefore different. Following the first negotiating session from 2 to 5 March 2020, Michel Barnier thus highlighted the difficulty, for judicial and police cooperation in criminal matters, posed by Britain’s refusal to commit formally to continuing to implement the European Convention on Human Rights or recognize the CJEU’s role in interpreting European law.

5 – As far as France is concerned, it will remain committed to realizing a partnership which is commensurate with the shared security challenges and is both ambitious and respects EU law and the principles defined by the 27’s heads of State and government since the start of the negotiations with the United Kingdom.

6 – As regards the bilateral relationship between France and the United Kingdom, the Lancaster House Agreement of 2010 sets the seal on the strategic partnership between the two countries, of which it remains the cornerstone. The treaty has allowed many advances to be made, making it possible to strengthen our collective capabilities and foster the integration of our armed forces, our intelligence services and our diplomatic and development bodies. In the bilateral relationship we would like to preserve, France and the United Kingdom must continue taking this balanced approach, including on sensitive issues. It is in their interest and it is their shared determination, when it comes to defence and security. The United Kingdom and France are Europe’s two leading defence powers, with independent nuclear deterrents and, in terms of force projection, full spectrum armed forces able to deploy and operate, alone or with Allies and partners, across the world on land, at sea, in the air, and increasingly in cyberspace. The 10th anniversary of the Lancaster House Treaty on the occasion of the next bilateral summit scheduled in France will allow us to mark a new beginning by relaunching this enduring partnership, building on the previous summit in Sandhurst, held in January 2018. This is the ambition of France and the United Kingdom in their work, equally determined to deepen their joint capabilities, their operational cooperation and the coordination of their policies, as testified by the scaling-up of the Combined Joint Expeditionary Force (CJEF) which should be fully operational this year. The United Kingdom therefore remains an essential bilateral partner, particularly on defence, security and intelligence, with which we intend to continue developing bonds of trust./.

Published on 11/05/2020

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