(Reuters) – France has dismissed this week’s dire British warnings about post-Brexit transport delays across the Channel as tactical posturing, the Financial Times reported on Friday.
“Of course, the signals that have been sent in the past few days are damaging,” France’s Europe minister Clément Beaune told FT.
“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 report quoted Beaune.
France’s response came a day after Ireland warned that a potential European Union-UK deal would fail if the divorce treaty is threatened.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson plunged Brexit into chaos earlier this month by unveiling, and then pressing ahead with, draft legislation that would undercut parts of the 2020 EU divorce treaty.
A British government report this week said there could be queues of up to 7,000 trucks in southeast England because some vehicles will not have the correct post-Brexit documentation.
The Reasonable Worst Case Scenario for borders report added that disruption could be lower in the initial days of January, but could worsen over the first two weeks as freight demand builds.
Britain could face wider disruption at the end of its transition agreement with the European Union if businesses don’t take the deadline seriously, Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove has warned.
However, Beaune told FT he saw these as ways of putting pressure on the Europeans.
France and the EU were keen to reach a deal, he said, adding 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,” he said. “The best outcome is still to have an agreement.”
Britain left the EU in January, but under a transition arrangement remains a member in all but name until the end of the year, by then it hopes to have clinched a free trade deal with the bloc.