France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune believes British warnings that there could be queues of trucks in southeast England because of post-Brexit documentation issues is disrupting the UK-EU talks.
“The signals that have been sent in the past few days are damaging,” Beaune told the Financial Times. “Anything which disrupts, disturbs or increases tensions in the negotiations is regrettable, and we won’t fall for a kind of intimidation at the European level,” the minister was quoted as saying on Friday.
The British government said in its Reasonable Worst Case Scenario for borders report, which was published this week, that there could be queues of up to 7,000 “port bound trucks in Kent and associated maximum delays of up to two days.”
“For the short Channel crossings via Dover and Eurotunnel, 30-50 percent of trucks might not be border ready when taking into account empty trucks that will not have the same border requirements,” the report said, while the flow rate could be reduced to 60-80 percent of normal levels at the bottom end of the readiness range.
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According to Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove, Britain could face wider disruption at the end of its transition agreement with the EU if businesses don’t take the deadline seriously.
Beaune, however, sees the warnings as ways of putting pressure on Brussels. France and the EU are keen to reach a deal, he said, but stressed that it is impossible to grant the UK broad access to the EU market unless it agreed to respect the bloc’s health and environmental rules and restrictions on state aid for companies.
“We are preparing for all scenarios,” Beaune said, adding that “the best outcome is still to have an agreement.”
The UK government is pressing ahead with draft legislation that would undercut parts of the 2020 EU divorce treaty.
Ireland’s Foreign Minister Simon Coveney said on Thursday that there is a window of several weeks for the UK and the EU to reach a breakthrough in trade talks before Britain’s upper house of parliament considers the contentious Internal Market Bill.
Gove told parliament on Wednesday that the British government is “absolutely determined to do everything that we can to secure a deal,” adding that “no-deal is in nobody’s interests.”
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