France adopts Brexit preparatory measures bill

European Union – Adoption by the National Assembly of the bill enabling the government to take by decree preparatory measures for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union – Press communiqué issued by the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs

Paris, 11 December 2018

Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, welcomes the National Assembly’s adoption by a very large majority (41 votes in favour, none against and six abstentions) of the bill enabling the government to take by decree preparatory measures for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

France, like the other member states and the European Commission, is preparing for every scenario. While the withdrawal agreement – which was agreed by the British government and the European negotiator and approved by the 27 member states on 25 November – is the best possible agreement for protecting the interests of the UK and the EU, it remains uncertain that it will be ratified by the British Parliament.

In this context, the enabling act allows the government to take by decree the necessary measures, either for some of them in the event of a withdrawal agreement, or, in the event of no deal, in three areas:

• French people living in the UK who return to France. The measures envisaged will, in the event of a no-deal withdrawal, enable their interests to be protected, for example by ensuring that periods of insurance and activity spent in the UK, or degrees and vocational qualifications acquired or being acquired in the UK, are taken into account.

• Britons living in France. The measures the government is preparing concern rights of entry and residence, the employment of British nationals carrying out salaried professional activity on the withdrawal date, and the situation of officials and interns with British nationality in the French civil service – whose status the government pledges to ensure will be maintained.

• The movement of people and goods across the Channel. The government would like to act without delay to ensure that transport continues to operate through the Channel Tunnel and put in place the necessary controls so that goods from the United Kingdom enter French territory without harming the free flow of traffic or the competitiveness of French ports.

The text, adopted by the Senate on 6 November, must now be examined by the Commission mixte paritaire [joint committee of the two chambers of the French Parliament].

On the occasion of the vote, Nathalie Loiseau said:

“Our wish is to arrive at an orderly withdrawal, and the agreement reached between the 27 and the United Kingdom is a good one – the best possible – which protects our respective interests. But its ratification is uncertain and it is our collective responsibility to ensure that France is prepared for every eventuality at midnight on 29 March.

As the results of last night’s vote showed, this bill transcends partisan debate and has a single objective: to protect our national interests and those of our fellow citizens. We would like the British government to be able, as we have done for their nationals living in France, to guarantee French and European citizens’ rights. French people in the UK can count on the government’s unwavering commitment.”./.

European Union – Brexit – Statement by Mme Nathalie Loiseau, Minister for European Affairs, on her arrival at the General Affairs Council¹

Brussels, 11 December 2018

THE MINISTER – You know, we are very much concerned about the postponement of the vote on the withdrawal agreement. We’ve done a lot to have the UK withdrawal agreement. It is the only possible agreement and we’ve done a lot of concessions to reach it. So we sincerely hope that there can be a majority to ratify this withdrawal agreement but we have to stand ready for a no deal and we are preparing for it, we had a vote in the French Parliament yesterday evening, authorizing the French government to take the necessary measures and we have to do so responsibly.

Q. – What can Theresa May be given to help her, given that there’s no wish to renegotiate?

THE MINISTER – We’re very concerned about the postponement of the vote on the withdrawal agreement, because that withdrawal agreement is the best one possible, the only one possible. It took months to negotiate. The European Union has made a lot of concessions for this withdrawal agreement to be possible. We aren’t accountable for the political situation in Britain today; the heads of state and government are going to meet on Thursday and Friday and discuss it among themselves. But our responsibility as leaders is also to prepare for no deal, because it’s not an unlikely scenario, and that’s why a bill was passed last night in the National Assembly to prepare us for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit.

Q. – Is a no-deal Brexit bad news for France too?

THE MINISTER – Brexit is bad news for everyone; a no-deal Brexit is very bad news for the United Kingdom. It has consequences for France, and to limit those consequences we’ve proposed that Parliament authorizes us to issue decrees. The National Assembly voted yesterday, so we’ll be prepared.

Q. – Are you pessimistic about Brexit, much more so than two days ago?

THE MINISTER – I’m very worried.

Q. – Will President Macron see Mrs May? What about the MFF [Multiannual Financial Framework]?

THE MINISTER – First of all, the heads of state and government will discuss the MFF on Thursday and Friday and they will set the priorities. They will work on this for quite a number of weeks and months. We have made progress on some priorities but we have to set all the priorities and discuss the amounts, so it’s a work in progress.

Q. – So do you expect a deal by the end of 2019?

THE MINISTER – We want a good deal, not a fast deal./.

¹ Mme Loiseau spoke in English and French.

Published on 12/12/2018

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