UK out of EU
30 January 2020


The United Kingdom will leave the European Union (EU) at midnight on 31 January. This is the culmination of more than two years of intense negotiations which have prevented a disorderly exit. During this period, the EU demonstrated its capacity to speak with one voice, behind its chief negotiator.
The rights of European and British citizens have been preserved: this was the Government’s first priority. French citizens living in the United Kingdom will be able to continue to live, work and study there under the same conditions as those currently prevailing. Likewise, British citizens resident in France will enjoy the same rights as they do today. The United Kingdom's withdrawal will have certain consequences, however: for example, British citizens resident in France will no longer be able to vote or stand as candidates in municipal elections.

The first day of February will mark the beginning of a transition period during which Union law will continue to apply to the United Kingdom. However, the latter, having become a third State as from that date, will no longer be able to participate in the Union’s decision-making process. This transition period, which provides security for businesses and citizens, is expected to end on 31 December 2020.

The next eleven months will be usefully spent progressing as far as possible in the negotiation of a new relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom. The Government wishes this to be ambitious, but also balanced and based on reciprocity. Negotiations will be comprehensive, and not just limited to trade and fishing. They will also address national security, foreign and security policy and mobility.

This new partnership must adhere to key principles which are vital to the protection of the European project and the interests of the EU. These will include respecting:
  • its autonomy in decision-making,
  • the integrity of the single market,
  • the balancing of rights and obligations.
During these negotiations, France will require the utmost vigilance regarding a number of issues, in order to protect its citizens, its farmers, its fishermen and its businesses.

Concerning trade, the Government will ensure that a level playing field is maintained between the United Kingdom and the EU. Trade links will depend upon regulatory convergence. The regulatory alignment of the United Kingdom on European standards must be sufficient to guarantee “zero dumping” in order to achieve the objective of “zero tariffs, zero quotas”. Robust dialogue and control mechanisms will be put in place to ensure that commitments are met over time.

The fisheries sector will receive the Government’s full attention. France’s position is firm and consistent: the Government wishes to preserve the best access to British waters for French fishermen and equally to maintain a position of fair competition with the United Kingdom within this sector.

The sense of urgency must not lead to haste, to compromises which would harm our interests. Substance must always take precedence over the calendar. The unity of the twenty-seven States must take precedence over individual interests.

There is a possibility that these negotiations may not be concluded by 31 December 2020 and that the British will not ask for an extension to the transition period. France is therefore continuing to prepare for such a no-deal scenario.

As far as France is concerned, the United Kingdom will remain a key partner with whom it intends to maintain deep ties at a bilateral level, in particular within the field of security and defence. The main objective of the next Franco-British summit, scheduled for autumn 2020, will be to demonstrate the strength of this cooperation ten years after the signing of the Lancaster House founding treaties, initially in the strategic field, but also in many other areas, including combating climate change within the context of the COP 26, which is to be held in Glasgow from 9 to 20 November 2020.