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BREXIT

Bienvenue en France: France cuts red tape for UK firms

French authorities said on Wednesday they would fast-track the process for British-based financial firms to decamp to France after Britain quits the European Union.

Bienvenue en France: France cuts red tape for UK firms
Photo: AFP

The move by France's banking and insurance regulators aims to enable companies currently located in Britain to go on operating freely across the European single market.

London's financial district has benefited from Britain's EU membership as it gave British and non-EU banks operating there access to the entire single market.

Frankfurt and Dublin have already gone on a charm offensive following the shock June Brexit vote to woo London-based financial institutions.

As an EU member, British-based firms have so-called passporting rights, which allow them to do business across the 28-nation EU and the 31-strong European Economic Area, which includes Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

But Britain's departure from the bloc could strip companies of those rights, which are expected to be one of the key issues in the negotiations on the terms of Brexit and are expected to take around two years.

The country's financial watchdog said this month that 5,500 British-based financial firms could lose their EU passporting rights, posing a significant risk to the finance sector.

The French authorities hope to woo firms with a simpler and quicker approvals process.

It would include using available documentation in English that has already been presented to the original regulatory authorities, French regulators said.

“Applicant establishments will be assigned an English-speaking case manager, who will guide the procedure” and advise them, they said.

The ACPR banking insurance watchdog has also set up a Brexit online mailbox for queries and forms.

Earlierthis week presidential candidate Nicolas Sarkozy vowed to offer the UK and exit from Brexit if he is elected to the ELysée Palace next May.

Sarkozy said if elected he would draw up a new European treaty that would be more favourable to British interests in a bid to persuade the UK to stay.

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TRAVEL NEWS

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport. 

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