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BREXIT

EU court rules against British expats’ challenge over ‘illegal’ Brexit

A European Court has rejected an appeal by Brits living in Europe, including 97-year-old war veteran Harry Shindler, who claim that the Brexit referendum was invalid because at least a million Britons were deprived of a vote.

EU court rules against British expats' challenge over 'illegal' Brexit
Marchers campaign against the UK's decision to leave the EU. Photo: AFP
Harry Shindler, who lives in Italy, and 12 other British expats questioned the legality of the Brexit referendum in 2016 because they and more than a million Britons living in the EU did not get to have their say due to the 15-year rule on voting rights for expats.
 
That controversial rule bars any British citizen from voting in UK elections or referendums if they have been living out of the country for more than 15 years. The UK's Conservative government has long promised to abolish the 15-year rule but failed to do so.
 
The French lawyers representing the Brits said that due to this fact, the European Union should not have accepted the UK’s intention to withdraw and start negotiations for leaving the bloc.
 
British citizens in several EU states who had been living outside the UK for more than 15 years were not allowed to vote in the referendum. The French lawyers argued that this meant the Brits were seriously affected by a vote in which they had no say.
 
However, the Council of the European Union opposed the application, arguing that the EU’s decision to open negotiations had not affected the applicants’ legal situation… so far. 
 
The European Court of Justice (ECJ) in Luxembourg ruled that the case was “inadmissible, because there are no expatriates who are personally affected [by the negotiations for the UK's withdrawal from the EU] for now”.
 
It went on to say that the “decision to open negotiations for an agreement with the UK … does not directly affect the legal situation of the applicants”.
 
The court said that “it is therefore only at the end of the Article 50 procedure that the rights of the applicants are liable to be affected”. 

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TRAVEL NEWS

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Visits to the Channel islands from France have halved since Brexit, and French local authorities say they may be forced to cut the regular ferry service, asking for the passport requirement to be waived for French visitors.

France may cut Channel islands ferry service after post-Brexit collapse in visitor numbers

Travel to and from the Channel islands – which are British crown dependancies – has reduced significantly since Brexit, when passports became a requirement for those travelling in and out of the islands and their ports.

Now the president of the local authorities in the Manche département of France has asked that passport requirements be lifted, with hopes of increasing travel to and from the islands.

Jean Morin told Ouest France that there has been a “considerable reduction in the number of passengers on routes between the Channel ports and the islands” and as a result the ferry service between France and the islands was seriously in deficit.

“On these lines, we will never make money, but we cannot be in deficit”, explained the Morin. 

He added that if a solution is not found by the deadline of May 1st, 2023, then local authorities will stop funding the shipping company DNO, which runs the Manche Îles Express ferry service.

“If the passport requirement is not lifted by then, we will have no choice but not to renew the service contract for 2024-2025”, Morin told Ouest France.

Only around half of French people have a passport, since the ID card issued to all adults is sufficient to travel within the EU. 

READ MORE: Ask the Expert: How Brexit has changed the rules on pensions, investments and bank accounts for Brits in France

DNO re-launched operations in April and since then, the company, and by extension the département – who plays a large role in funding it via a public service delegation – has been losing significant funds.

According to Franceinfo, the number of passengers has been cut in half since passport requirements were introduced. Franceinfo estimates that for one ticket for one passenger costing €30, the département spends €200.

According to Morin, the ideal solution would be to require a simple ID for tourists seeking to take just day-long or weekend-long stays on the islands – which reportedly represents at least 90 percent of the boats’ usual passengers.

“The Jersey government is working hard on the issue and is waiting for an agreement from London and the European Union. There is the possibility that things could move quickly”, Morin told Franceinfo on Tuesday.

Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit, boats going to and from the French mainland carried at least 110,000 people per year. In 2022, only 40,000 passengers made the journey, Olivier Normand, the sales manager of Manche Îles Express, told Actu France.

Normand had expected the decline, however. He told Actu France that the company had taken a survey, which found that almost half (between 40 and 50 percent) of their clientele did not have a passport. 

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