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Q&A: Where do Brits in France now stand if there’s a no-deal Brexit?

After the EU's publication of its no-deal contingency plan caused anger and alarm, Kalba Meadows from the Remain in France Together campaign group tries to ease growing anxiety and put British citizens in the picture about what it all means for their futures.

Q&A: Where do Brits in France now stand if there's a no-deal Brexit?
Photo: Deposit photos

Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of fear around after yesterday's preparedness paper from the Commission that didn't include a transition period for UK citizens in the EU. I wanted to put up this post just to outline where it leaves us so that you're not all having sleepless nights or crying into your wine over Christmas.

1. Are we all doomed?

No. What you read yesterday is the Commission's advice to its Member States. It's disappointing that they have no plans to introduce an EU wide transition period for citizens' rights as they do for finance and aviation, especially as they always said that citizens were their first priority. But what we do know is that France is ahead of all the other countries in its own no deal planning and our rights form a large part of that.

2. What is France doing to protect our right to stay?

On Tuesday, the enabling legislation – the projet de loi – passed its last debate stage, the commission mixte paritaire, and will now simply have to go to the conseil constitutionnel to be legally checked, and then to the president for signing.

This will happen in January. Article 1 of this law covers the rights of British people resident before 29 March 2019.

The law gives the French government the power to pass – and pass very quickly – ordonnances (secondary legislation) – to cover key areas that will be affected by Brexit, including our rights. They are very well aware of the danger of a cliff edge exit and that this would leave us without rights on 30 March if nothing was done.

The exact content of the ordonnances hasn't yet been published and won't be until they know more about the UK position, but we know from the discussions as the projet de loi went through the system that they are contemplating a kind of transition period for us, as they are fully aware that they would be unable to issue every Brit with a residence permit before 30 March.

As you know we had direct input into this process. We also have some ideas of their thinking on how they might protect our rights in different circumstances, but this is still all up for grabs and won't be fully decided until more is known in January.


'You are a priority': France tries to reassure Britons over Brexit

3. Who would be protected if there were no deal?

Anyone who was already living legally in France on or before 29 March 2019. Living legally does not mean that you would have to hold a CdS at that point, but that you met the conditions for legal residence on or before that date. You'll find those here:

4. Should I still apply for a Carte de Sejour (CdS) now? 

Yes, absolutely – it's more important than ever. Even if your application can't be dealt with until after March because you can't get an appointment, please continue trying to make one as once you have an appointment you'll be in the system. If you already have a CdS on 30 March you'll be in a better position as you'll have evidence that you're legally resident, which will facilitate your travel and your right to continue working. If you're not sure whether you meet the conditions for legal residence, please ask for advice on RIFT first.

5. What should I do if I can't get a CdS or get into the system?

Put your dossier together as if you're making your application, and keep it up to date. That way you're ready to roll if an appointment comes up, and you have evidence that you can use to prove your residence if needed.

6. Can I rest easy if I already have a CdS?

In some ways, yes, because you have proof of being legally resident now. But there will still be hoops to jump through, and especially if there is no deal, and at some point your CdS will have to be changed for one which has your new status as a Third Country National (TCN). Important: we advise ALL RIFT members to make sure that they put together and maintain an up to date dossier that shows their legal residence for at least 5 years or back to the date of their arrival, if that's shorter. This is something practical that you can begin in the New Year.

7. Should I be panicking?

Absolutely not. Anyone living here legally today will still be able to live here legally after a no-deal Brexit.

8. How will all this be monitored?

If there's a no-deal Brexit, British in Europe will have as one of its core functions the monitoring of citizens' rights in all the EU27 countries. Remain In France Together (RIFT) will obviously be involved in this for France and it would also become a core activity for this group. so please don't feel that you would be left to deal with it alone.

Kalba Meadows is the head of Remain in France Together, you can find out more information on the groups work, particularly around the Carte de Sejour application process by CLICKING 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.