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UPDATE: ‘It WILL be compulsory to hold a Carte de Séjour after Brexit’

While the focus of what happens next in the Brexit saga has all been on Theresa May and London, Kalba Meadows from campaign groups Remain in France Together and British in Europe has been in Paris trying to ensure the rights of Britons in France are protected. Here is her important update.

UPDATE: 'It WILL be compulsory to hold a Carte de Séjour after Brexit'
Photo: AFP
I’m sure a lot of you are wondering where things are currently at with our post-Brexit rights, whether there’s a deal or not (and really, who knows at this moment? We’re all living on a knife edge).
Well, we in the British in Europe France team have barely seen our feet touch the ground in the last 4 or 5 weeks.
After two intense periods in London, first with the People’s Vote march and then the day of action in Parliament, human chain to Downing Street and mass lobby of MPs, the action has now moved to Paris.
Meeting the Prime Minister’s Europe Advisor
On 8 November four of us met with Sandrine Gaudin, the Prime Minister’s Europe advisor and chief of the Secrétariat Général pour les Affaires Européennes in Matignon.
We talked about the unique situation of British citizens living in France, about some of the particular difficulties that have arisen because France doesn’t currently require us to hold a Carte de Séjour, about vulnerable groups and people, about the under-capacity in prefectures for dealing with applications and about the projet de loi that would enable ordonnances that would cover our rights in the case of no deal and that is currently under debate.
We also discussed ring-fencing and talked about the reciprocity that for the government underpins the projet de loi and its subsequent ordonnances, as well as how we might be able to work alongside the government to represent the interests of British people during this process.
It’s hard to say yet how much real progress we made, but just getting our foot in the door at such a high level was an amazingly good start in a government that doesn’t really have much of a tradition of collaboration with community groups. It is, as they say, à suivre.
Giving evidence at the Assemblée Nationale
This week saw a full-on trip for 3 of us, with 3 meetings in a day and a half. On Wednesday morning, we were called to give evidence to the commission spéciale of the Assemblée Nationale, once again on the projet de loi.
To say that this is an accelerated process would be an understatement – there is a palpable sense of urgency and the commission has just a few days to write its report before the projet is discussed in the Assemblée.
Meeting the Ambassador and his teams
From there we hot-footed it across the Seine to the British Embassy, where we were expected for an informal lunch with the Ambassador and some of his staff before an afternoon ‘round table’ with him and the Embassy teams involved with citizens’ rights, along with some representatives from other groups.
The evidence session had run late and therefore so did we, and we barely had time to stuff bits of (fortunately) not-very-British wrap into our mouths before settling down for what turned out to be a rather ‘robust’ discussion, mainly on how outreach and communication to Brits on what they need to be doing to prepare for Brexit could be improved and how the Embassy teams could increase their understanding of the issues people are and will be facing. We made some concrete suggestions and will be following up both with individual team members and with similar meetings in the New Year.
Meeting officials from the Direction générale des étrangers en France at the Ministry of
the Interior
Our last meeting in this round the next day was with the head of the Europe section of the ministry, along with 2 other members of his team, in the rather amazing building in the photo above (which really is an office and not a cruise ship). We had a really good, helpful and constructive 2 hour session with them – the first of many to come.
Much of our discussion this time has, at this stage, to remain confidential, but I want to feed back two things in particular that are really important for all of us Brits in France to hear.
One thing I can tell you is that as we thought, it WILL become compulsory to hold a Carte de Séjour after Brexit, either from the end of the transition period if there is a deal, or (in theory at least) by 30 March 2019 in the case of no deal.
Those who currently hold cards will have to exchange them, but will find themselves in a stronger position and will be able to take advantage of a facilitated procedure for this exchange.
So the advice is clear. If you’re waiting to see, please start the process now.
Make sure you ask for a récipissé once you’ve put in your dossier too, if your prefecture issues them to EU citizens (not all do). We’re working with both the ministry and the Embassy trying to persuade them to put into action a joint information campaign to give this advice an official stamp, but time is short. Please don’t wait for that to come out before you act.
France has made good progress in preparing for our future rights both in the case of a deal and of no deal, and hopefully some public statements will be made from next month, after the UK Parliament vote.
But I DO want to reassure everyone that they really do have our interests and our well-being at heart and are genuinely looking for the best solutions possible to protect our rights.
Those we met wanted us to pass on that message to you all – to let you know that there is no sense in which France is looking to punish us in any kind of Brexit and that they will do the very best they can to make it possible for everyone to stay under the best terms they can.
That includes those who currently have less than 5 years residence.
It’s not easy right now being one of the 150,000 to 200,000 Brits living in France, and we know how incredibly worried so many people are about what may happen in just 16 short weeks. I know it’s not much consolation, but please rest assured that we’re in your corner and we’re doing everything we can to represent your interests and your concerns where it matters most.
If you feel able to support our work by making a donation (however small) towards our costs, we’d be truly grateful. We’re all volunteers, giving up time from our day jobs to do this work; to carry on we need your help to fund our expenses.
Thank you. British in Europe is an Association Loi 1901.

Member comments

  1. A heartfelt thanks to the activists who have worked , and are working, so hard to support us here in France. Much appreciated.

  2. The work you are all doing is truly above and beyond. We are so fortunate to have you batting for us during these anxiety provoking times.

  3. We had a visit here in Nice about a year ago from the UK Ambassador and some of his team and, quite frankly, it was as much use as a chocolate teapot. HE himself seems to be a decent chap, if somewhat out of his depth, and a lot of the problems in him not being able to give any kind of straight answer were, almost certainly, the result of the uselessness of the negotiating team, in particular David Davis. But little has happened in the subsequent twelve months to improve the situation and one wonders just exactly what is going on in the Paris embassy. If it were not for organisations like BiE and RIFT we’d be completely in the dark.

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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.