COORDINATION OF THE FRENCH BREXIT TASK FORCE
France has set up a Brexit Task Force that will be coordinated by the General Secretariat of European Affairs (SGAE), an administrative service coming under the Prime Minister. The Head of the Task Force is Philippe Léglise Costa. He has extensive experience in leading European negotiations, having served as deputy Permanent Representation to the EU and been a former EU advisor to François Hollande. He recently designated Vincent Falcoz to be in charge of a special division on Brexit reporting directly to him. Vincent Falcoz worked before in the French Embassy in Ukraine as the Head of the Economic department. Philippe Léglise Costa will also be backed up by the various departments within the SGAE dealing specifically with issues related to Internal Market, Competition, Economic Affairs, Labour, Digital, Judicial Area, Free movement of persons; Trade, Agriculture, Copyright, Transport, Health, European enlargement. These departments are led by three Deputies : Aurélie Lapidus ( Economic affairs and Internal Market), Francesco Gaeta (Transport, Agriculture, Digital) and Cyrille Baumgartner (European judicial area , Free movement of People).
Because of the future elections and upcoming cabinet re-shuffle, it is not possible to currently identify who will be in charge of the Brexit negotiations at the top political level. However, among others it will certainly be the future diplomatic advisors of the President, the Prime Minister and the Minister in charge of Foreign Affairs. At present these positions are respectively held by Jacques Audibert (who was Minister-Counsellor in the French Embassy in London), Emmanuel Puisais-Jauvin(who worked with Philippe Léglise Costa at the Permanent Representation of France), Laurent Pic (who is actually the Head of the Cabinet but as he previously worked in the SGAE, he seems to be the most relevant influencer).
COMPOSITION OF THE FRENCH BREXIT TASK FORCE
All the Ministries were required by Philippe Léglise Costa to appoint a few people in their respective offices in charge of European affairs to elaborate their respective positions on Brexit.
In particular, the EU Directorate of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will play a key role within the Brexit negotiations and there is a strong possibility that there will be a power struggle between them and the SGAE. Philippe Setton, who is the Head of this Directorate will be a key player, in particular as he was the Representative of France on the Political and Security Committee in the French Permanent Representation in Brussels. He will be supported by a high level team, including Laurence Auer who was previously in charge of the French Institute in the UK and Nicolas Thiriet who is Deputy Director in charge of Internal policy and institutional issues
The French General Directorate of the Treasury will also be a key service involved in the Brexit negotiations, especially as it is has the lead on economic policy and Free Trade Agreements. Odile Renaud-Basso, Head of the Directorate, will be assisted by Emmanuel Massé, who is in charge of macroeconomic and EU policies, Thomas Revial, head of the European affairs division as well as Claire Cheremetinski, Head of the Trade policy Directorate.
FRENCH PERMANENT REPRESENTATION WITHIN THE EU
As the Brexit negotiations will be conducted at the European level, the French Permanent Representation within the EU will play a crucial role in relaying the French positions on Brexit, especially within the EU Council. The French Permanent Representative to the EU, Ambassador Pierre Sellal, has a strong background on EU negotiations, as it is not the first time he holds this position. In addition, he was the number two in the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs before joining the Permanent Representation. Alexis Dutertre, who is his right-hand man and a former advisor of Alain Juppé, will be specifically in charge of the issues related to the internal market.