• France's news in English
'France won't let UK have benefits of EU but not be in it'
Time to get on with the divorce," Hollande will tell Theresa MAy. Photo: AFP

'France won't let UK have benefits of EU but not be in it'

AFP/The Local · 21 Jul 2016, 12:28

Published: 21 Jul 2016 12:28 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

On her first foreign trip since taking office in the wake of Britain's seismic June referendum, May told German Chancellor Angela Merkel on Wednesday that her government would not ask to leave the EU before the end of 2016 in order to plan a "sensible and orderly departure".

But there may be trouble ahead with France urging the UK to get on with the arduous and fraught task of divorcing itself from the EU.

Ahead of the meeting in Paris, Hollande flew to Ireland -- the EU country which will be most affected by Britain's decision to leave the 28-nation bloc.

In a joint statement Hollande and Ireland's Prime Minister Enda Kenny stressed the need for Britain to begin the Brexit process "as soon as possible" which will trigger "orderly negotiations".

Worried about growing euroscepticism at home, France has urged Britain not to draw out its negotiations to leave the European Union although it accepts that formal talks may not begin for several months.

"François Hollande has made it very clear, the British voted for it so we have to do it," Christophe Premat the MP who represents French nationals in the UK told The Local.

Premat says the French know little of Theresa May and the new PM is unlikely to get an easy ride during negotiations in Paris.

"Of course Britain will come to an agreement with the EU, but the French government does not want the UK to have all the benefits of being in the EU, without actually being a part of it," said Premat. 

"It's important to complete Brexit as soon as possible, partly because it's important to respect the vote," said adding that the strong bilateral relations between Britain and France will stand the two countries in good stead when it comes to negotiations.

Diplomats close to Hollande also suggested the emphasis is firmly on the UK to deal with the fall out of the June referendum and will not get everything it asks for from Paris.

"The pressure is on Britain. It has put itself in this situation," a French diplomatic source told AFP.

The diplomat said Britain could not get a custom-made agreement on its future relations with the EU.

"That is not possible. It has to choose between existing options."

Speaking after his meeting with Kenny in Dublin Hollande said more specifically that: "Access to the single market cannot be guaranteed unless free movement of workers is respected." 

Hollande has a presidential election looming next year and faces the far-right National Front, which wants France to leave the EU too.

Story continues below…

Britain on Wednesday took the first step towards Brexit by announcing it was relinquishing its six-month EU presidency which had been due to start in July 2017 and will be taken up by Estonia instead.

But during her visit to Berlin, May said she would not initiate the formal procedure for Brexit "before the end of this year" at the earliest.

Merkel, who is expected to play a pivotal role in the Brexit talks along with France, said it was in the interests of all that Britain had a "well-defined position" before beginning the negotiations.

"No one wants things to be up in the air -- neither Britain nor the member states of the EU," Merkel said.


AFP/The Local (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie 'to sell their French chateau'
All photos: AFP

Want to live where Brangelina got married?

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available