Prime Minister sets out no-deal Brexit contingency plans

European Union – Brexit – Communiqué issued by the Prime Minister’s office

Paris, 17 January 2019

The Prime Minister convened a meeting today of the ministers concerned with preparations for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. This meeting follows the rejection of the agreement on the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union by the House of Commons on 15 January 2019. France, even though it would still like to avoid the scenario, is preparing for the United Kingdom to leave with no deal on 30 March 2019, in consultation with the European Commission and its European Union partners.

The Prime Minister has therefore decided to implement the preparation plan he asked his ministers to draw up in April 2018, with the prospect of a possible no deal.

The act enabling the government to take measures by decree to prepare for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union should be adopted on the final reading by Parliament today. It will enable five decrees to be taken which will be adopted at the Council of Ministers’ meeting, after the Conseil d’Etat (1) has delivered its opinion, as from 23 January 2019.

The first decree governs the rights of British citizens in France and inter alia provides for:

- a period of 12 months during which, subject to reciprocity, these British nationals will be able to continue living in France without a residence permit. They will therefore have one year to start the simplified process to automatically obtain either a residence card if they have lived in France for more than five years or to obtain one of the permits provided for those who have lived in the country for less than five years,

- keeping the social welfare rights these nationals were enjoying on the date of withdrawal,

- maintaining British companies established in France in regulated sectors (lawyers, chartered accountants),

- maintaining British civil servants within the French civil service.

A second decree will allow emergency infrastructure work necessary for restoring border checks (customs, sanitary and phytosanitary checks, checks on goods and people), by simplifying certain formalities.

A third decree will allow businesses established in the United Kingdom to continue road transport operations in France. It will also issue Eurotunnel with security clearance.

A fourth decree will allow certain financial activities, particularly as regards insurance, to continue following the loss of the United Kingdom’s financial passport.

A fifth decree will allow defence equipment transfers between France and the United Kingdom to continue.

All these contingency measures will be supplemented by European legislative acts, which are being drawn up.

The Prime Minister has decided to trigger the action plans of the ministries tasked with restoring border checks with the United Kingdom:

- infrastructure managers are asked to begin necessary work without delay (temporary constructions, especially for parking, at a cost of roughly €50 million) so that border checks are operational on 30 March 2019.

- the relevant ministers will have to train and appoint extra staff to carry out customs and veterinary checks (580 jobs), and concentrate them in the regions most affected.

These measures must step up the checks which will be necessary to protect the European single market, whilst keeping goods and people flowing as smoothly as possible.

The Prime Minister has also tasked:

- the Minister of the Economy and Finance and the Minister for Government Action and Public Accounts with stepping up efforts to raise awareness among economic actors, particularly SMEs;

- the Minister of the Interior, the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister for European Affairs with keeping British and French nationals informed. Brexit will be a change but we are determined to maintain the excellent level of integration between our two countries.

For this purpose, the government information website launched on 1 December (www.brexit.gouv.fr) will allow individuals and businesses to find answers to their questions.

The Prime Minister has asked the relevant ministers to ensure permanent, close consultation with local elected representatives and economic actors on the ground.

Finally, the fisheries sector will be particularly exposed and requires European mobilization. Consequently, with its European partners, the Minister of Agriculture and Food will approach the European Commission on the matter.

These measures are envisaged only as contingency actions, which the government is responsible for preparing and which will continue as long as the British government has not put forward clear ideas for the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union./.


(1) supreme administrative court which also advises the government on legislation.

Published on 31/01/2019

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