Visas for visitors from Britain after Brexit? “Fake news!” insisted President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday (18 October), scoffing at the idea that France would ever impose such a demand on it neighbour.
“Brexit has consequences but.. we will not start (requiring) visas for UK people if there’s no deal,” he said at the end of a Brussels summit at which EU leaders made little progress in breaking the deadlock in talks.
“It is fake news, as other leaders would say!” he told reporters, speaking in English.
Taking precautions in the event that Britain and the European Union part ways without a deal “is just our responsibility”, Macron said.
“I want to reassure everybody about the day after,” he said. “I don’t want to create panic.”
“The day after, in case of a no-deal, everything will be organised with due processes, for normal life,” he said.
But there would have to be new regulations in place, he said, without giving further details.
“You will have flights, boats and people circulating and people making business with new rules, but this is precisely the only way to have a day after — with new regulation.”
“It is not good way to proceed by saying it would be a disaster in case of no deal… But in case of no deal, our responsibility is to be sure that the life of our people will not be (too) impacted.”
Earlier this month, the French government unveiled draft legislation aimed at setting out preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit which would cover British citizens living in France and French nationals in Britain.
Paris is seeking a “reciprocal” arrangement whereby both countries would treat each others’ expat citizens equally.
The post-Brexit visa regime is not part of the Article 50 negotiations. In September 2017 EURACTIV asked the then UK negotiator David Davis if the UK was planning to introduce visas for Poland, Bulgaria and Romania after its exit.
— The Venerable Bede (@TheMonk1576) October 19, 2018
In its pre-referendum campaign, the Brexit camp built most of its rhetoric against the threat of workers from Poland, Romania and Bulgaria, taking jobs from the British.
“Oh yes, I mean, we will. Strict question. We will be free to, yes, we will no longer be a member of the European Union, we will be free to operate our migration policy as we see fit. As I’ve said before, that does not mean that people from the EU countries will not be able to come to Britain and work in Britain, but we will have that freedom.”