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Official speeches and statements - February 12, 2020

Published on February 12, 2020

1. Brexit - British free zones - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - February 11, 2020)

We’ve noted the British government’s recent announcements about its negotiation targets and the measures it intends to take to make its country more attractive, as well as its intention, as you’ve just said, of creating some 10 free ports by the end of 2021.

Given that free ports make it possible to withhold the collection of customs duties and other taxes at the moment when the goods are put onto the market, we’ll examine this announcement in view of the essential issues of fiscal transparency, and we’ll do this in liaison with the European Commission, which is going to be entrusted with its negotiation mandate on February 25, under the responsibility of Mr. Michel Barnier, in coherence with the EU 27.

But I wanted to tell you here, again, that we’ll be utterly vigilant in preventing all forms of unfair competition, in whatever field, and that if we have to take time to negotiate, we’ll have to take it. We have no intention of seeing the emergence of an environmental and trade tax haven off our coasts, off the coasts of Hauts-de-France, which is able to compete abnormally with European products on our own markets.

I also want to tell you that access to the internal market isn’t automatic, it’s a lever for negotiations, and we’re embarking on these negotiations with clarity and firmness, but never in a position of weakness.