Brexit: French spirits and wine exports to be hit hard by no-deal hangover

France's wine and spirit markets face huge financial losses if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, a leading agricultural chief warns. *French language learner article*

Brexit: French spirits and wine exports to be hit hard by no-deal hangover
Photos: AFP

*This is a French language learner article. The words in bold are translated into French at the bottom of the article.

As the financial consequences of a no-deal Brexit to both the UK and the EU continue to unravel, the latest industry comments to raise alarm bells have come from French agricultural union head Christiane Lambert. 

“The wines and spirits sectors would be the most badly hit since we currently have a positive balance of €1.3 billion in terms of exports to the UK,” Lambert, president of the FNSEA (France’s Federation of Agricultural Holders' Unions), told France Info on Sunday.

“The second victim would be dairy products, which we currently have a UK exports turnover of €100 million for.

Lambert argues that despite ongoing demand for French food from Britain, increased trade costs and potential holdups at customs in the event of a no-deal Brexit would lead French food manufacturers to reconsider their trade options, whether they wanted to or not.


Brexit pickle: EU divorce threatens Marks & Spencer sandwiches in FrancePhoto: AFP

“(Even though) the British are very fond of our camembert and brie, there are a lot of these exported dairy products that would be sent back to Europe and thus drive down the products’ prices.”

Lambert’s comments come as British Prime Minister Theresa May is scheduled to present her plan B of the Brexit agreement on Monday, after her initial deal was overwhelmingly rejected in the House of Commons last week.

According to the French industry head, who represents 20,000 local agricultural unions across France, the apple industry would also be very affected, as France is the largest supplier of apples to the UK.

The vegetable and cereals sector would also feel the pinch, Lambert says.

“We are concerned that these market losses will result in a food price collapse.

“Then there’s also the issue of standards, if the UK no longer applies the same standards, there may be market distortions in terms of competition.

Lambert also argues that with the UK becoming a third party outside of EU jurisdiction, they may “decide on trade tariffs and restrict imports”.

French vocal to learn

un solde positif: positive (account) balance

un syndicat: a trade union 

effondrement de prix: price collapse

le chiffre d'affaires: turnover

un/une fournisseur/se: supplier

être friand/e: to be fond of/ to be partial to

les spiritueux: spirits (drinks high in alcohol content)

restreindre: to restrict 

la douane: customs 

les droits de douane: tariffs 

la concurrence: competition

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.