France will not rush trade deal with UK - Minister

European Union – Brexit/trade agreements – Excerpts from the interview given by Mme Amélie de Montchalin, Minister of State for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to Radio classique

Paris, 24 January 2020

Q. – (…) Let’s move on to Europe and Brexit: 31 January, the official departure of the British from Europe. Are we off on some new marathon negotiations, even so?

THE MINISTER – We’re already heading for a situation where I think we must tell the truth. Behind the festivities being announced, behind the tweets, behind the photos of Boris Johnson and his friends, there still lies a truth no one talks about any more, namely that on 1 February the United Kingdom will be alone; the British will be alone. In other words, when they say they want to reach agreements with the United States, they won’t have the 500 million Europeans to ensure the agreement is balanced. When they have to negotiate with China, Russia or whoever else, they’ll be alone. And so I think we must also remind ourselves that Brexit is also a major jolt for the British and that we must really be aware that it’s not just a matter of relations with us, it’s also, for the British, a matter of relations with the world. What’s certain is that we Europeans will have to have guarantees; we’ll have to understand how the British want to continue being neighbours and fair competitors.

Q. – But how do you feel about Boris Johnson, very frankly? He wants to move very quickly.

THE MINISTER – I feel there’s some inconsistency today. You can’t ask the Europeans to zoom through an agreement in 11 months, up against the clock, and tell us at the same time that he’d like to diverge – i.e. not have the same rules as us – on a whole load of issues. I can tell you that France has a very clear policy: we’ll sacrifice no citizen, no business for the sake of moving quickly. We’ll take whatever time is necessary. During that time, transition period rules apply, the British continue to apply European rules, because if you take the environment, for example: we’ve just announced a Green Deal. We’ve just explained that Europe wants to have carbon neutrality by 2050. In this Green Deal, we’re saying things about production standards and pesticides in agriculture. So we’re talking about what are going to be restrictions, additional ones, which we deem necessary for our economy. As long as the British haven’t told us how they want to reach this target, if that’s what they still want, well, we’ve got a problem. (...)./.

Published on 29/01/2020

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