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#Brexit postcard from Paris: what is France thinking? Thread
1. Brexit is not the EU's priority: like the UK, France does not want Brexit dominating the news. Most important EU decisions now are MFF & green deal. Other EU countries think the same as @Mij_Europe said y'day:
2. Trade talks will be far from easy: France (like rest of EU) knows UK wants to diverge - the key concern for France is how to prevent divergence from (i) undercutting EU business & (ii) disrupting trade flows. Trade-off is simple: lower standards, reduced market access.
3. Withdrawal agreement pain far from over: France also concerned with the implementation of the withdrawal agreement. How will border along Ireland & Northern Ireland work? How will UK manage checks between GB and Northern Ireland? FR, and EU, will be monitoring this closely.
4. Fish: in particular, access for French fishermen to British waters. No way France will sign up to a UK-EU deal that does not include a satisfactory outcome on fish. French EU minister @AdeMontchalin also said this in an interview today:
5. Hawkish @EU_Commission? Not exactly; Commission working hard to find EU27 consensus (2/3 divisions remain). Also looking at ways to speed up negotiations & avoid ratification nightmare "a la CETA" (this is good for UK). Draft mandate out next week - sign off week of 24 Feb.
6. Transition: France very open to longer transition ("UK merely needs to ask"). But UK wd need to do so before July. "Last-minute request won't fly; UK will no longer be a member state, but a third country - this changes the political dynamics & considerations".
7. Basic deal: But France does not believe UK gov will request an extension. So final deal, if one is reached, will not cover all sectors. EU reserves the right to issue unilateral measures for areas not covered - these will be time-limited and limited in scope. Not mini-deals.
8. Citizens rights: Still not clear what happens to British citizens who move to France after transition period (rules, settlement, etc). Clarification expected over coming months. Likewise, France waiting to see UK's new immigration policy; a taster of Global Britain?
9. Franco-British relations: this year is the 10th anniversary of the signing of the Lancaster Treaty (with summit in the Autumn). But what role does UK want to play on global stage? France watching out for the government's new integrated strategic defence and security review.
10. UK-EU future: from my conversations, it is clear what France and EU don't want from their relationship with UK; but less clear to me they know what they do want. But Commission is working on this.
11. UK mandate: @BorisJohnson speech next week will give an indication of what UK wants but France "not expecting detail". Even if UK & EU aim for basic deal, they will need to agree *what* that basic deal covers. Tick tock. Brexit far from over. END.
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