Sun Sep 1st, 2019 at 04:40:45 PM EST
It started with a question from Frank:
how France will respond to a no deal Brexit at an elite and popular level. Will UK exports be "discouraged" at Calais? Will "sectoral agreements" in the absence of a withdrawal deal be permitted? Will Johnson et al be indulged afterwards or shunned like the plague?
Since my answer was running a bit long, I've put this diary together.
The French government has - quietly - started Brexit preparations for quite some time now; they even have an official government Brexit portal. Different ministries also have their own Brexit web pages.
Frontpaged - Frank Schnittger - we need more diaries on prepartions for Brexit in other EU states
Some items are listing two possibilities: if the WA is ratified, or there's no deal. But it's difficult to plan for all contingencies, especially when dealing with fickle and unpredictable interlocutors. This page claims: French authorities getting ready for Brexit but the key part is this:
Over 200 measures of all types have been listed since the summer of 2018 and are being put into execution at both operational and legal levels. Within that framework, the Parliament has authorized the government to rule by decree [their emphasis] on specific high priority topics in order to temporarily ensure continuity of essential services, deemed strictly essential to individuals and businesses. These measures may be withdrawn or modified in the absence of reciprocal decisions from the United Kingdom.
Some government agencies pages are specific to the Hauts de France, the northern region which is arguably the most impacted by Brexit.
On the practical side, I noted this "dress rehearsal": for one month, all road transportation companies in Calais will run extra paperwork, "as if Brexit already happened". A new transit system, with export declarations done online and truck license plates read upon crossing over to the UK, will be inaugurated soon, reportedly in the presence of Michael Gove, no less. The article quoted an official stating that "We'll be trading with the UK like we're trading with South Africa, following WTO rules. We do trade with South Africa, but there's more paperwork than with Belgium or Spain." These arrangements are for export to the UK; not sure what will happen in the other direction, but according to the Le Touquet agreement, controls must be carried out on the UK side, by French customs and immigration officers, before the passengers or merchandise eventually boards a ferry of a train to France.
This is for the institutions; as for the general population, Brexit is hardly on the radar screen, except for those whose work involves import/export with the UK or have relatives resident in the UK. For French people, the main issues are: employment, standard of living, retirement and health insurance, housing, climate change (several heat waves in France this summer) and immigration. BoJo? A clown, same as Trump. <insert Gallic shrug here>
So, to answer Frank's questions, transit should be slower, but the French authorities are preparing to keep things rolling along, as long as the Le Touquet treaty is not thrown away by the UK as "a new Le Goulet": who knows what a Johnson government may pull out? Again, this is the challenge of dealing with unpredictable parties who are making it up as they go along.
Smiles and backslapping at the G7 notwithstanding, I don't think that Johnson and his gang will keep the same status within the EU: there will be negotiations, but more than ever, it's us, the EU, versus them, the UK.
Since I'm not fluent enough in German, I don't have a good idea of the state of Brexit preparations over the Rhine. The political and media elites having long lived in denial that Brexit would really happen, I would assume they are quite behind in term of preparedness. The federal nature of the German republic makes it both more difficult to deploy policies from the federal government for issues other than defense, security etc... but also, somehow more resilient: the German Länder have much more power and resources than you'll find in centralized countries like France.