French government urges companies to prepare for no-deal as it expresses regret at lack of new proposals from Downing Street

The French government is urging businesses in France to step up preparations for a no-deal Brexit, saying Downing Street has offered no new proposals to replace the Irish backstop.

Amélie de Montchalin, the Europe minister, said President Emmanuel Macron and other leaders had asked Boris Johnson at the G7 summit in Biarritz “to tell us very concretely if there are things he doesn’t like in the negotiations previously conducted. As of now, we have not received proposals on alternatives from the British.”

She told French business leaders on Tuesday night that if Britain put forward new proposals, France stood ready to discuss alternative arrangements to the backstop, which the prime minister wants removed from the Withdrawal Agreement. 

Olivier Dussopt, a junior budget minister, said preparations by the estimated 100,000 French companies that do business with the UK were “moving in the right direction but are not yet sufficient.” 

France is hiring 700 extra customs officers and has installed “smart border” systems at Calais in an attempt to minimise disruption.

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A French parliamentary report made public on Wednesday warned that Brexit will damage European intelligence-gathering, with or without a deal, as the UK will lose access to crucial data.

“Whether it is a hard or a soft Brexit, the future status of a ‘third country’ will carry important consequences,” according to the report by a parliamentary committee on intelligence-gathering. The committee called for a “privileged partnership” to be created between the EU and the UK to try to prevent criminal or terror networks exploiting legal loopholes after Brexit.  

British intelligence services will lose access to European files such as the Schengen Information System, which shares data for security and border management and gives police and border forces access to terrorism or crime alerts on individuals or objects, the report said.

UK agencies will also be shut out of the EU’s Passenger Name Record, which contains airline passenger information used to prevent, detect and investigate terrorism and serious crimes. They will no longer be given access to the European Travel Information and Authorisation System, which checks and holds data on the security status of travellers visiting EU countries.

Britain will also be prohibited from accessing asylum-seekers’ fingerprints, kept on the shared Eurodac file, to determine which country may be responsible for examining asylum applications made in the EU. At present, it enables Britain to send back migrants who have made applications in another EU member-state.

The parliamentary report also re-affirmed that the UK will be kicked out of the European arrest warrant system after Brexit.

The warrant, which allows EU member-states to request the arrest and detention of suspects in other countries without extradition negotiations, “cannot de facto be open to third countries,” the report said. Countries such as Germany or Italy would have to change their constitutions to allow their citizens to be extradited to Britain. However, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, has suggested that the EU could consider setting up streamlined extradition procedures with the UK instead.

Jean-Yves Le Drian, the French foreign minister, repeated on Tuesday that France opposes a further postponement of Brexit unless it was for a game-changing event such as a general election.

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