UK out of EU
17 January 2019

France triggers contingency plan in the event of no-deal Brexit

On Thursday 17 January 2019, two days after the British Parliament rejected the UK's withdrawal agreement from the European Union (EU), Prime Minister Édouard Philippe triggered the plan for a no-deal Brexit, particularly to ensure that "the interests of our citizens are preserved".

Even though France hopes that such a scenario will not come to pass, "the scenario of a no-deal Brexit is looking less and less unlikely," Edouard Philippe said after meeting with the ministers concerned on 17 January at his official residence, the Hôtel de Matignon.

"The Government's responsibility is to make the necessary plans [following the deal's rejection] and to ensure the interests of our citizens are preserved," Édouard Philippe said as he announced the activation of the "plan for a no-deal Brexit", which he had asked his ministers to start drawing up in April 2018, in the event the UK were to crash out of the EU.


Enabling the continuity of rights for citizens and businesses

This plan "incorporates legislative and legal measures aimed at ensuring that rights are not interrupted and that the rights of both our citizens and our businesses are effectively protected," the Head of Government explained.

As the first pillar of the legal architecture, the enabling act (which will allow the Government to take measures by ordinance to prepare for the consequences of a no-deal Brexit) is set to be adopted at its final reading, today, by Parliament's two chambers.

This will enable five ordinances to be enacted, the first of which is due to be presented to the Council of Ministers on Wednesday 23 January. "The other four ordinances will be issued in stages over the next three weeks," Philippe clarified:
  • 1st ordinance will govern the rights of British citizens in France;
  • 2nd ordinance will enable the emergency construction of the necessary infrastructure for restoring border checks (for customs, sanitary and phytosanitary standards, goods and people);
  • 3rd ordinance will enable businesses set up in the UK to continue running road transport services in France;
  • 4th ordinance will enable the continuity of certain financial activities to be ensured – not least in terms of insurance – once the UK loses its financial "passporting" rights;
  • 5th ordinance will enable transfers of defence equipment to continue between France and the UK.
The Prime Minister also specified that a €50m investment and organisation plan would be rolled out across French airports and ports. Aim: to adapt to the new situation by building new control check-points and parking areas. He announced that 580 extra officials would be recruited – under the 2019 Finance Act (customs officials, veterinary inspectors, State officials, etc.) – to deal with the increasing flows of goods and people.

As sectors on the front-line, fishing and the fish-processing industries will be particularly vulnerable to the consequences of a "hard Brexit". The Prime Minister vowed to "defend the interests of French fishermen and defend the interests of fishing sites and businesses involved in this crucial economic sector." European mobilisation is necessary. The Minister of Agriculture and Food will reach out to his European partners as well as the European Commission.

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