French government makes no-deal Brexit plans

18 Jan 19

The French government has pledged to send €50m to its country’s ports and airports if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal in March.

The country’s prime minister Edouard Philippe said a no-deal outcome was much more likely after the UK Parliament rejected the withdrawal agreement earlier this week.

An EU official is going to visit all 27 member states to co-ordinate plans for a no-deal Brexit. Many countries within the European Union, which have close ties with the UK, have already begun preparing for a no-deal scenario.

Philippe said if the UK leaves the EU without a deal the French government would come up with a new legal framework to deal with the “hard Brexit”.

The €50m will be invested in infrastructure at ports, airports and borders “most concerned” by the prospects of a no-deal, he said.

The prime minister told reporters in Paris on Thursday: “What’s certain is that the scenario of a no-deal Brexit is less and less unlikely.”

He added that the government had “strong fears” the UK would leave without an agreement with the EU.

“In such conditions, the government’s responsibility is to make sure the country is ready, that the interest of our citizens are preserved… That’s why… I have decided to trigger the plan for a no-deal Brexit,” he said.

The government plans to start hiring 600 extra employees to deal with the consequences of a no-deal Brexit for cross-border trade, to help customs as well as vets and other inspectors who carry out checks on goods, livestock and food products.

European Commission spokesperson said: “We are taking this very seriously now as the possibility of a no-deal Brexit is become more possible after Tuesday night.

“This is work which is ongoing and it’s developing fully. We are not taking any changes.”

Germany’s economy minister Peter Altmaier has also warned “everyone in Europe would lose” if the UK leaves without a deal.

The Irish parliament has also discussed its plans for legislation in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The Netherland’s foreign trade minister Sigrid Kaag on Wednesday said the country was launching a plan later this month.

Referring to fisheries, meat-processing and flower exports, she said: “After Ireland, the Dutch economy is most entwined with that of the UK.”

Spain has said it would ensure its immigration offices are fully staffed to deal with the workload in case of a no-deal. About 310,000 UK citizens live in Spain and would have to confirm their residency, officials said.

UK prime minister Theresa May’s withdrawal agreement with the UK was rejected on Tuesday evening. She won a no-confidence vote in her government on Wednesday.

The UK is due to leave the EU on 29 March this year.


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