Special Brexit Powers for French Government

The French Senate is considering special powers for the French government to rule by decree (ordonnance) in the event of a hard Brexit. This is to enable France to react quickly to Brexit related events without having to go through its usual parliamentary processes. Several areas which you would have thought would be included are missing. These are listed lower down in this article and are of concern. The special powers will cover the following areas: -

  • The right for UK nationals to enter and stay in France. This is going to be important for France’s tourism industry. The requirement for UK nationals to obtain Schengen visas to enter France could reduce the number of holiday makers and hurt the economy. This is going to require agreement with all the Schengen countries with agreement on the fees payable. The current fees third country nationals pay is going to be too high for UK nationals.

  • The employment of UK nationals legally in salaried employment in France at Brexit date.

  • The carrying out of a business or profession in France by a UK individual which is legal at Brexit date, but which is subject to conditions.

  • Rules applicable to civil servants with UK nationality working in France.

  • Rights of UK individuals legally in France at Brexit date to social security. This is going to mean that UK nationals who are French resident but still claim for tax or other reasons to be UK resident will need to decide where they officially live. Not much time left to sort this out.

  • Controls on goods and passengers going and coming to France and veterinary and plant controls on goods imported from the UK.

  • UK haulage businesses and bus services. This has already received a lot of comment in the UK media.


What is not included in the decree powers

  • Terrorism, crime and security issues. It is odd this is not covered as the confusion at the time of a hard Brexit must considerably increase the risks of a terrorist attack.

  • Taxation and Customs duties including VAT. Difficulties here could cause problems with goods entering the UK or France. You would have thought powers would be included to change procedures and paperwork needed.

  • Issues with neighbouring countries like Belgium if goods are diverted from French ports to say Belgian ports. There may be some “competition” between EU ports for UK business post Brexit and commercial flexibility may be needed.

November 2018
David Anderson
Solicitor-Advocate and Chartered Tax Adviser