France rejects UK ‘intimidation’ over post-Brexit deal

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FILE PHOTO: Young French Minister for European Affairs Clément Beaune speaks at a press conference to present the government’s economic recovery plan after the Covid-19 pandemic, in Paris, France on September 3, 2020 . Ludovic Marin / Pool via REUTERS

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Reuters staff



(Reuters) – France has dismissed this week’s dreadful British warnings of post-Brexit transport delays across the Channel as a tactical posture, the Financial Times reported on Friday.

“Of course, the signals sent in recent days are damaging,” French Minister for Europe, Clément Beaune, told FT.

“Anything that disrupts, disrupts or increases tensions in the negotiations is regrettable, and we will not fall into some kind of intimidation at European level,” Beaune quoted.

France’s response came a day after Ireland warned that a possible EU-UK deal would fail if the divorce treaty was threatened.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged Brexit into chaos earlier this month by unveiling and then moving forward with a bill that would undermine parts of the EU 2020 divorce treaty.

A UK government report this week said there could be queues of up to 7,000 trucks in South East England as some vehicles will not have the correct documentation after Brexit.

The Reasonable Worst Case Border Report added that the disruption could be less in the early days of January, but could get worse in the first two weeks as freight demand increases.

Britain could face greater disruption at the end of its transition deal with the European Union if companies do not take the deadline seriously, Cabinet Minister Michael Gove has warned.

However, Beaune told the FT he saw it as a way to put pressure on the Europeans.

France and the EU were keen to reach an agreement, he said, adding that it was impossible to grant the UK wide access to the EU market unless it agrees to abide by the bloc’s health and environmental rules and restrictions on state aid to businesses.

“We are preparing for all scenarios,” he said. “The best result is to have an agreement.”

Britain left the EU in January, but as part of a transitional deal it will remain a member in all but name until the end of the year, by then it hopes to have concluded a free trade agreement with the bloc.

© 2020 Reuters. All rights reserved.

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