France will carry out a month long rehearsal of Brexit measures for a month before Britain leaves the EU.
Around 700 extra customer officers are working on ports connecting France and the UK as preparations on the other side of the Channel are ramped up as October 31 nears.
If a deal can’t be struck between the UK and EU by that date, the customs arrangement that has governed British shores for decades will fall apart.
And, unless something drastic changes in the next two months, the once frictionless border between the UK and France could become a bogged down under mountains of unchecked goods trying to move between the countries.
In a bid to mitigate the potential chaos France will test run measures designed in case Britain’ crashes out.
Ahead of his meeting later today with Michael Gove – the British minister in charge of coordinating ‘no-deal’ Brexit planning – French Minister of Public Action and Accounts Gerald Darmanin outlined the rehearsal plans.
“For a month we will act as if there is Brexit for a large number of companies,” he told RTL radio.
“We’re going to put in place a sort of general rehearsal so that we are ready at the end of October.”
As well as the 700 extra customs officers, authorities will introduce online border declarations, forcing companies to announce their goods prior to arriving at the border.
“You are in Grenoble (eastern France), you are an a small or medium-sized company, you export to Britain and so you now declare everything online,” Darmanin said.
“There will be barcodes and numbered plates or merchandise … and without stopping at the border, your goods will go directly to Britain.
“There will be no queues of tens and tens of kilometers.”
In a bid to calm fears that lorries will be forced to queue up for miles to reach the border in the event of a no-deal, the British government has said most goods from the EU will be allowed into Britain without full customs checks for at least three months after October 31.
France is the EU’s biggest agricultural producer and exports large amounts of wine, spirits and dairy products to Britain, while relying on its neighbour’s waters to sustain its fishing industry.