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Official speeches and statements - September 13, 2019

Published on September 13, 2019

1. Situation of Mathias Echène - Statement by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs (Paris - September 12, 2019)

I have learned that our compatriot Mathias Echène, who had been detained in Indonesia since 2017, has today been issued with an order to immediately extradite him to Hong Kong.

I disagree with this decision, which was made by the Indonesian authorities without informing us, and while our concern regarding the deterioration in Mathias Echène’s health was well-known. I had intervened on several occasions to request that our compatriot be hospitalized in order to receive the appropriate care.

Mathias Echène was being closely monitored by our consular services in Jakarta. He will continue to receive the full support and assistance of our consulate in Hong Kong and the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, in accordance with the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations of April 24, 1963.

2. European Union - Brexit - Communiqué issued by the Prime Minister’s Office (Paris - September 9, 2019)

On September 9, 2019, the Prime Minister once again convened the relevant ministers to prepare for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The European Union and the United Kingdom spent two years negotiating a withdrawal agreement, the best one possible for protecting European citizens from the consequences of Brexit.

Whilst France would like to avoid a no-deal exit on October 31, 2019, it is preparing for every scenario in close cooperation with its European partners and the European Commission.

Since April 2018, the government and administrations have been working on the implementation of a national contingency plan, which the Prime Minister launched on January 17, 2019.

In this framework, Parliament empowered the government, by a law promulgated on 19 January 2019, to legislate by ordinance in priority areas so as to ensure legal certainty and the elements of continuity which are absolutely necessary for French and British nationals and businesses. The French government has therefore acquired a legal arsenal, which led to the adoption, between January and April 2019, of seven ordinances, eight decrees and several orders.

Infrastructure managers (ports, stations, airports) have carried out the necessary adjustments and work to ensure that border checks are operational from the date of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union. Additional staff have also been assigned to perform customs (600 customs officers), health and phytosanitary (200 veterinary experts) checks at the borders. The system is therefore now in place. It will undergo real-world testing in the coming weeks.

The Prime Minister has asked ministries to step up communication and information drives for citizens and businesses, to encourage economic operators and individuals to intensify their preparations for a no-deal withdrawal. A website,, which has been operational since December 1, 2018, provides answers to questions from French citizens settled in the United Kingdom, British citizens settled in France and businesses trading with the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister would like the ministries to be in a position to respond quickly to all queries raised by businesses and individuals. In October, the Ministry of the Interior will launch an online registration platform for residence permit applications for British nationals living in France.

The Prime Minister has also asked the relevant ministries and the state services to ensure permanent, close consultation with local elected representatives and economic players on the ground. He has appointed Mr. Michel Lalande, Prefect of Hauts-de-France region, Prefect of Nord Defense and Security Zone, and Prefect of Nord department, as national coordinator for preparation at local level for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union.

Finally, the fisheries sector requires close European coordination. The Ministry of Agriculture and Food will therefore continue working with the European Commission and relevant member states at a coordination meeting in Brussels on 16 September 2019 and the Council of Fisheries Ministers on October 14, 2019.

A no-deal exit would entail some level of disruption to the current relationship with the United Kingdom. The Prime Minister has asked all ministers to remain mobilized on the issue and maintain the unity of the 27 European Union member states, until the United Kingdom has clarified its position.

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