Brexit: what are the impacts on the French economy?

On 27 January 2022, the ministerial conference “Brexit: one year of customs formalities, balance sheet and prospects” was held. The aim of this conference was to share feedback from European customs and businesses one year after the full restoration of customs formalities and control between the European Union and the United Kingdom. The pooling of these returns makes it possible to envisage improvements concerning existing systems. Thus the conference was organized around two round tables.

The first made it possible to set up a joint “customs-business” balance sheet. It is necessary to value the actions put in place by European customs, to allow companies to respond correctly to regulatory obligations and to allow the fluidity of trade.

The second round table aims to put into perspective the possibilities to meet the needs of companies but also to take stock of their operation with British customs formalities and controls. At the same time, it is necessary to listen to private sector actors such as shippers in order to understand their need to allow optimizations if necessary. It is necessary to maintain the development of trade with the British market in the best possible conditions for all the players. In 2021 no less than 3.6 trucks crossed the border thanks to the smart border that allows better fluidity.

Brexit, a hot topic in the European Union since 2016. The announcement of the UK’s planned departure from the EU was finally made on 1 January 2021. This departure is not without consequences on many subjects, framed by agreements between the two parties. After more than five months of Brexit, France, the UK’s direct neighbour, is drawing its first conclusions about the impact of this departure. How does this affect the French economy and the lives of fellow citizens in both countries?

Brexit, an event that changes the lives of residents abroad

Brexit is an event that has made headlines around the world. The official departure of the European Union from the United Kingdom, after being one of the first twelve countries to be part of it. A radical change of course, subject to the vote of the British, then determined to become autonomous. But this withdrawal from the EU is not so good news for many people who have previously opposed the UK’s exit.

Thus, since 2016, once the results of the vote are revealed, many Britons want to leave their country to settle abroad. To live in a different Country in Europe than the United Kingdom. Many already live and work in France, even though they still have British nationality. But following the Brexit announcement, this situation can no longer last like this. If they wish to remain in France, the British must apply for a residence permit or naturalization. This is mandatory from 1 October 2021, if French nationality is not obtained. In which case it will no longer be possible to stay in France before obtaining the document.

Big Ben London UNITED Kingdom
Brexit is having an impact on trade relations within the EU.

In sum, in 2016, 1,363 Britons already settled in France applied for naturalization. The previous year, there were only 385, an increase of 254% in the space of a year. A massive movement, therefore, which shows that the British are attached to their current living conditions. By 2021, more than 148,000 Britons are living in France, despite Brexit. Whether for work or standard of living, France attracts and continues to attract.

A Brexit not so impactful for the French economy?

Brexit took several years to come into force. And for good reason, it is a whole system that needs to be reviewed, negotiated so that the United Kingdom and the rest of the European Union can benefit from it. In order to avoid a hard Brexit, which would have had a strong impact on trade in Europe, there were many concessions.

France is the third country most affected by Brexit. From an export point of view, the country will record a loss of 1.9 billion euros each year. In 2020, France exported 33.6 billion euros worth of goods to the United Kingdom, making it the 6th largest customer in France. In terms of imports of English products, France registers 21.1 billion euros, making the United Kingdom the 7th largest supplier of the country. In general, the United Kingdom represents France’s largest trade surplus.

The trade agreement allows trade to continue without tariffs or quotas. But for all that, the UK, with Brexit, is leaving the European common market. Thus, since the official entry into force of Brexit, companies must identify themselves with the customs of the other country concerned. In trade, companies now work with their partners to establish financial and legal responsibility for goods.

Flags UK Europe
Since 1 January 2021, the United Kingdom is no longer part of the European Union.

Carriers, at the heart of these exchanges, are therefore indispensable players and involved in the transport of goods. Thus, DHL is one of those carriers that adapts to the situation, and offers solutions to accompany companies that conduct exchanges with the United Kingdom. This is an important transition, in which companies are moving forward step by step.

Current issues

Brexit raises concerns and questions for British or French residents living in another country. It is also a new event for companies, which are reviewing their entire operations. But another big issue has made the news: that of fishing.

In fact, 30% of French fishing comes from British waters. An agreement on fisheries allows for a framework for access to the various zones to practice their activity. Thus, until 2026,fishermen in the European Union retain guaranteed access to areas that lie 6 to 12 nautical miles off the coast of the UK. This area is part of the territorial waters, and after that time, these agreements will be subject to annual renegotiations.

In short, Brexit will not be without an impact on economic activity in France or Europe. The incidence rate of Brexit in France is estimated at 0.1 percentage points of national wealth in 2021. However, France can rely on other European partners to maintain its economic activity.

Brexit in the face of fears of economic fallout

Brexit has had consequences that we already knew. Border closures, reinforced customs controls and interruptions in certain trade relations between France and the United Kingdom… These are events that do not promote trade between the two countries. However, how is it going for France?

Faced with the implementation of Brexit, France can count on the support of the rest of the European Union. The countries supported each other during this period, but the British experienced a more difficult period. Problems of supply of gasoline, various foodstuffs… To see in time how this will evolve in the future…


Brexit: what impact for French companies? BPI France published on January 6, 2021

How can companies prepare for Brexit? Ministry of the Economy, published on 4 January 2021

Brexit Conference: one year of customs formalities, assessment and prospectsFRENCH PRESIDENCY OF THE COUNCIL OF THE EUROPEAN UNION, article of 26 January 2022

Abonnez-vous à la Newsletter