French customs official
16 November 2018

The consequences of a no-deal Brexit

Speaking at the Interministerial Committee for the Sea, held in Dunkirk on 15 November 2018, Édouard Philippe particularly mentioned the prospect of Britain leaving the European Union (EU) with no deal and the consequences this would have for the movement of people and trade between France and the United Kingdom (UK).

Regarding the consequences of a no-deal Brexit, which France hopes will not come to pass but which it must nevertheless consider, the Prime Minister particularly spoke of the necessary reintroduction of arrangements for checks on goods and passengers travelling to and from the UK, as well as the equipping of the Channel Tunnel and ports, which would require:

  • construction of equipment and premises for border police,
  • recruitment, already under way, of customs officials able to work in good conditions,
  • construction of large parking areas,
  • reinforcements in terms of health and plant health checks, with the recruitment of veterinary inspectors,
  • arrangements specific to the Channel Tunnel to enable train drivers to continue working in both countries.

Accordingly, no fewer than 200 measures are poised to be taken between now and 29 March, the date on which the UK leaves the EU. For Édouard Philippe gave a reminder that a no-deal Brexit "would raise, at local level but, in truth, at national level, a whole host of very challenging, very technical problems which, although not always very visible, would have major consequences if left unresolved. So, in a race against the clock, we need to be preparing carefully and precisely for the eventuality, which once again I very much hope does not happen but which is still on the table, of a departure with no deal."

These preparations are coordinated at European level: for subjects which do not come under France's remit but the EU's, the Commission is working closely with France on planning and contingency measures. Bilateral contacts have also been established with Ireland, Belgium, the Netherlands and Germany, in order to coordinate the preparations.

As long as uncertainty remains over the form the UK’s departure from the EU will take on 29 March 2019, the Government will press on with its contingency planning.

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