France takes steps to prepare for Brexit

A bill presented to the French cabinet allows for the necessary measures to be taken by decree in the event of either a withdrawal agreement or no deal.

Bill – Measures to prepare for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union – Communiqué issued following the Council of Ministers’ meeting

Paris, 3 October 2018

The Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs and the Minister for European Affairs, attached to the Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, presented a bill enabling the government to take measures by decree to prepare for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

An agreement organizing the practical details of the United Kingdom’s orderly withdrawal from the European Union is currently being negotiated. In accordance with Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union, this withdrawal must, in principle, occur following a period of two years from the UK’s notification of its intention to exit the EU, i.e. on 30 March 2019. In order to leave the necessary time for the agreement to be ratified, the negotiations should be completed in autumn 2018.

Reaching such an agreement remains the primary goal of the government, the other member states and the European Union as a whole.

However, the possibility of a failure of the negotiations between the EU and the UK, or of one of the two parties failing to ratify, cannot be ruled out.

This is why the European Council of 29 June 2018 reiterated its invitation to the EU member states and institutions and all the stakeholders to step up their efforts to prepare for all eventualities.

In this context, the bill aims to give the government the means for this preparation, by empowering it, if necessary, to adopt by decree those measures governed by law with the member states’ competences.

These measures may concern, first of all, British individuals and legal entities who, on the day of the withdrawal, are subject to French law, particularly in terms of the right to entry and residence, employment, the exercise of activities subject to conditions, the civil service, or social rights and the right to social security benefits.

The government is very mindful of the situation and rights of French nationals who have settled in the United Kingdom. The government will take appropriate measures regarding the situation of British nationals in France. It will take into account the status granted by the UK to our nationals on its territory.

The measures the government takes by decree may also be aimed directly at safeguarding the interests of French nationals, for example by ensuring that their periods of insurance and employment in the UK, and academic and professional qualifications acquired or being acquired in the UK, are taken into account should they return to France.

Finally, to prepare as well as possible for a possible reintroduction of controls at the United Kingdom border, these measures will make it possible to adapt port, rail, airport and road facilities and infrastructures more quickly.

The content of the measures the government eventually adopts will depend on the outcome of the negotiations under way; the government may, among other things, decide not to adopt such measures if conditions are not met.

Furthermore, these measures are not intended to replace the contingency measures the European Union will take and cannot, in any event, come under an area of competence of the European Union. Their adoption will be subject to close consultation with the European Commission, in full respect of the principle of sincere cooperation resulting from Article 4, paragraph 3 of the Treaty on European Union, and coordination with the EU’s other member states.

Even in the event of a withdrawal agreement being concluded, the bill also provides for the government to adopt implementing measures for this withdrawal agreement, particularly for adaptations which would be required by the reintroduction of controls on goods and passengers travelling to or from the United Kingdom following the possible transition period.

Finally, a ratification bill is expected to be put before Parliament within six months of the decrees being published./.

Published on 03/01/2020

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