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Official speeches and statements - March 25, 2020

Published on March 25, 2020

1. COVID-19 - Border with the United Kingdom - Reply by Mr. Jean-Yves Le Drian, Minister for Europe and Foreign Affairs, to a question in the National Assembly (Paris - March 24, 2020)

You recalled recent developments. Last Tuesday, at the French President’s request, the European Council decided to close both the Schengen Area and the European Union area, including the United Kingdom in them, in a single, protected space subject to measures restricting travel and contacts.

There have been talks with the UK which have led to the British authorities shifting their position since last Friday. First of all, by developing much stricter health measures. Secondly, by deciding on Friday evening to close major public places, beginning with schools. And finally - and this is the most important event - by deciding yesterday evening, through a speech by Prime Minister Boris Johnson, to take drastic confinement measures for three weeks, with extremely strong measures whose implementation we can’t yet assess in a very concrete way because it’s very recent. And shortly, on leaving here, I’ll be having an in-depth discussion with my colleague Dominic Raab to check the implementation of all the measures, including on traffic and the Channel crossing.

But the measures taken are also aimed at ensuring that within this area, which I might call "confined", there can be controls between the different countries, intra-European controls, to check not only the ability of cross-border workers to go and continue ensuring that economic life goes on but also to check that the transit of goods is carried out under the best conditions, as quickly as possible, and that it’s checked. And it’s on that specific point that I’m shortly going to have talks with my British counterpart, to harmonize all our arrangements and ensure there’s no additional disruption.

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