French parliament backs no-deal Brexit bill to protect Britons in France

The Brexit accord that has stumbled in the British parliament is the "only deal possible" and Europe must prepare for London to crash out without an agreement, France warned Tuesday, the day after its lawmakers gave the green light to a bill that will protect the status of Brits in France.

French parliament backs no-deal Brexit bill to protect Britons in France

France's minister for European affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, sounded the alarm bells in Brussels as Britain's Prime Minister Theresa May embarked on a lightning mini-tour of EU capitals to beg for support.

“The withdrawal agreement is the only one possible,” she said, echoing previous warnings from EU leaders Jean-Claude Juncker and Donald Tusk, presidents of the European Commission and European Council.

On Monday, May abandoned an attempt to push the divorce deal she brokered with EU leaders last month through a hostile House of Commons, triggering dismay in European capitals who fear more chaos ahead.

“Our responsibility is to prepare for a 'no deal' because it's a hypothesis that is not unlikely,” Loiseau said, suggesting Britain could leave the EU on March 29th without arrangements to keep trade flowing. 

“I'm very worried,” she added. “A Brexit without an agreement would be very bad news for the United Kingdom and would have consequences for France.”

On Monday night France's National Assembly voted through a bill that allows the government to take emergency measures to deal with the fallout of a no-deal Brexit, including protecting the lives on Britons living and working France.

Speaking after the vote Loiseau said: “Our collective responsibility is to ensure that France is ready for all the possibilities on March 29th at midnight.

“As the results of the vote showed  last night, this bill goes beyond partisan debate and has one goal: the protection of our national interests and those of our fellow citizens.
“We hope that the British government can, in the same way as we have done vis-à-vis their nationals living in France, guarantee the rights of French and European citizens. The French people of the United Kingdom can count on the unfailing commitment of the government.”
One of the key measures the bill includes is the protection of British citizens working in the French civil service. Normally the civil service is only open to French or EU nationals but the National Assembly agreed that the hundreds of British teachers working in French schools and universities should have their status as fonctionnaires protected.
Reacting to the news that the bill had passed parliament Kalba Meadows from Remain in France Together said: “This means that in the event of no deal, the French government can quickly act to bring into effect decrees to ensure that we don't become illegal residents overnight.
“It will almost certainly include some kind of transition or grace period to allow everyone to 'regularise' their situation under whatever new rules would be implemented.
“It also means that teachers and other fonctionnaires won't lose their status or be downgraded to contractual workers,” she added.
In a recent interview with The Local France Europe Minister Loiseau insisted that in the event of a no deal Britons in France would be given enough time to get a carte de sejour residency permit.
“They (British citizens) are a priority,” Loiseau told The Local but said London must show they see the French in the UK in the same way.
“The fact we have dedicated one whole chapter of this bill to the status of Britons living in France shows how important they are to us.
“It shows that we want them to stay. We want them to be able to work, study or be retired here.

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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.