Brexit: meeting to discuss French businesses’ preparedness
Fourth ministerial meeting to increase businesses’ awareness about Brexit, co-chaired by Nathalie Loiseau and Agnès Pannier-Runacher – Joint communiqué issued by Mme Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, and Mme Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of State attached to the Minister of the Economy and Finance
Paris, 19 December 2018
Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, and Agnès Pannier-Runacher, Minister of State attached to the Minister of the Economy and Finance, convened a meeting today at Bercy [French Economy and Finance Ministry] of professional federations representing every French sector and company, in order to take stock of the UK’s exit from the European Union, the key issues concerning the withdrawal agreement and businesses’ preparedness for all scenarios between now and March 2019.
This is the fourth such meeting at ministerial level since spring 2018. These meetings, held in the presence of the ministers and Thomas Courbe, Head of the General Directorate for Enterprises, Bertrand Dumont, Deputy General Director of the French Treasury, and customs, transport and agricultural representatives, follow more than 40 or so technical consultations with federations to discuss and support businesses’ preparedness.
The ministers reiterated that these measures to prepare businesses for every scenario, particularly that of a no-deal Brexit – even though this is not what the government wants – remain essential.
As Agnès Pannier-Runacher said: “more than ever, businesses, particularly SMEs and mid-size companies (ETIs), must prepare themselves for the consequences of Brexit and anticipate every scenario. The government is making plans in order to support them, and the teams at Bercy and all the other directorates concerned are now equipped to answer all the very practical questions which businesses, their leaders and employees may have”.
Nathalie Loiseau emphasized that “our wish is to get an orderly withdrawal, and the agreement reached between the 27 and the UK is a good agreement – the best possible – which safeguards our respective interests. But the current uncertainties are leading us to step up our efforts at every level to prepare for a no-deal Brexit. For several months, the government has been anticipating measures which could be taken to lessen the impact of such a situation. It is essential for everyone, particularly every company concerned, to do the same and prepare for all scenarios.”
Even though the Brexit agreement negotiated by the European Union and the UK – and validated by the European Union heads of state and government on 25 November – provides for the UK’s orderly withdrawal, it still has to be ratified by the British and European parliaments to come into force. France, just like the other member states and the European Commission, is preparing for every scenario. A bill, adopted by the Senate on 6 November and the National Assembly on 11 December, will make it possible to take by decree all the essential measures, either for organizing controls, even in the event of a withdrawal agreement, or – and this is where the most measures will be taken – in the event of no deal, in three broad areas:
the situation of French nationals, and French interests in general;
the situation of Britons in France;
the movement of people and goods.
Businesses must anticipate the possible impact, particularly on their human resources, suppliers, distributors, customers, costs, data storage, contracts etc.
To help businesses prepare, the government has made available:
a single portal, www.brexit.gouv.fr, set up to answer questions from three sectors of the public: European Union nationals living in the United Kingdom, UK nationals living in an EU country, and businesses that have economic relations with the UK;
a guide, presented and distributed at the previous meeting (23 October 2018), is available online, on the Ministry of the Economy and Finance’s website: https://www.economie.gouv.fr/brexit, https://www.entreprises.gouv.fr/files/files/directions_services/politique-et-enjeux/entrepreneuriat/brexit-se-preparer-a-la-sortie-du-royaume-uni-de-l-ue-nov2018.pdf;
meetings organized by region, under the authority of prefects, with the DIRECCTES [Regional Directorates for Enterprises, Competition Policy, Consumer Affairs, Labour and Employment], the Customs and Excise Economic Action Centres (PAE) and the state’s other decentralized services, in conjunction with local economic and consular stakeholders;
two email addresses for any questions from businesses relating to the impact of Brexit: Brexit.firstname.lastname@example.org and Brexit@douane.finances.gouv.fr.
Nathalie Loiseau’s office: 01 43 17 55 76
Agnès Pannier-Runacher’s office: 01 53 18 44 38 email@example.com./.