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BREXIT

What exactly is France’s plan for a no-deal Brexit?

French Prime Minister Edouard Philippe announced on Thursday that France has activated its plan for a no-deal Brexit. But what exactly does this plan entail?

What exactly is France's plan for a no-deal Brexit?
Photo: AFP

The no-deal Brexit plan that France is set to trigger later on Thursday includes measures that aim to ensure that there is no interruption of rights and that the rights of our fellow citizens and our businesses are effectively protected, the prime minister said. 

The French parliament is expected to complete the adoption of a bill Thursday, allowing the government to pass five decrees covering preparations for a no-deal Brexit, which could create chaotic scenes on both sides of the Channel.

Here's what the plan entails so far. 

Britons in France

The French prime minister on Thursday made it clear that France intends to protect the rights of British citizens living here as long as that attitude is reciprocated by the UK.
 
“We want to be ready to protect the interests of our citizens,” Philippe said. “Our objective is… to respect our obligations, to make sure that the lives of our citizens and, in a way, British citizens living in France are impacted as little as possible.” 
 
In terms of the residency rights of British citizens in France, they will be allowed remain without a permit for a year after Brexit, provided the French living in Britain can do the same. After that they will need to apply for residency.
 
READ ALSO:
Q&A: Where do Brits in France now stand if there's a no-deal Brexit?
 
 
It's important to remember that Britons in France have been encouraged to apply for their Carte de Séjour residency permit as soon as possible even if there is a deal.
 
The draft bill revealed in late 2018 stated clearly that “in the case of an exit without agreement, the British wishing to enter France to stay for more than three months would be subject to this requirement.”

 
If Britain leaves without a deal then British nationals and their families who didn't have the residency permits would have an 'irregular' status, the draft bill stated.
 
If there is a deal Brits in France who have successfully applied for a Carte de Sejour will likely be able to swap it for whatever kind of residency permit that is brought in post-Brexit.
 
No-deal Brexit: Brits in Europe furious over EU's new contingency plan
 
Transport links
 
British truckers will be allowed to continue making deliveries in France, and the Channel Tunnel will continue to operate.
 
Emergency customs infrastructure 

Philippe announced that 50 million euros would be invested in ports and airports in France which he said “are obviously the places most affected by the changes needed” in the event of Britain crashing out of the EU without a deal.

“In some ports that will mean the construction of car parks, in others it will be the establishment of infrastructure for carrying out checks,” Philippe said.

in total, around 600 people will be recruited to work in border control in the coming weeks, including customs officers and veterinary controllers.

Safeguards on financial activities

Any financial activities that could be jeopardised by Britain losing its “passport” access to EU financial markets will be safeguarded. 

Cross-Channel deliveries of defence equipment
 
So far there isn't much detail on the last of the five decrees however the French government has confirmed that deliveries of defence equipment between the two countries will be covered in the bill. 

 
READ ALSO:

No-deal Brexit: What France's contingency plan means for Brits in France

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BRITS IN EUROPE

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

After years of campaigns and promises British citizens living abroad finally won the lifelong right to vote in UK general elections in April 2022. But campaigners say more needs to be done to allow all those Britons abroad to be able cast their votes easily.

Brits in Europe won right to vote for life in UK but questions remain

What’s in the law?

The Elections Act 2022 introduced several changes to the current legislation on electoral participation. Among these, it removed the rule by which British citizens lose their voting rights in the UK if they have lived abroad for more than 15 years

The new rules also abolished the requirement to have been previously registered in the UK electoral roll to become an overseas voter. In addition, the registration in the electoral roll will now last up to three years instead of only one year.

It is estimated that these changes could increase the number of overseas voter registrations by some 3 million. But the way new measures will be applied in practice is still to be defined.

READ ALSO: ‘Mixed feelings’ – British citizens in Europe finally get right to vote for life

Defining the practicalities

Under the new law, Britons living abroad will have to register to vote in the last place they were registered in the UK. This means that people who have never lived in the UK will be ineligible to vote, regardless of how long they have been overseas, while those who left when they were children will be able to use a parent or guardian’s address.

But given that the UK does not require residents to register with local councils, how to prove previous UK residence? “Typical documents accepted as a proof of residence are Council tax or utilities bills, but not everyone will have them or will have kept them in an international move,” says Fiona Godfrey, co-founder of the British in Europe coalition.

Ballot papers are pictured in stacks in a count centre as part of the 2019 UK general election. (Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN / AFP)

Other questions concern how people will effectively cast their ballot. UK citizens overseas will be able to vote by post or by proxy or in person at their polling station if they are in the UK at the time of the election. However, few people are likely to travel to the UK for an election and in the past there have problems and delays with postal voting.

The Electoral Commission has recommended that overseas electors appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. But who could that be for people who have been away from their constituency for a long time?

New secondary legislation will have to answer these questions, defining how to be included in the electoral roll and how to exercise the voting right in practice.

According to British in Europe, the government should present draft legislation in the first half of the year so that the parliament can adopt it before summer and registrations of overseas voters can start in the autumn.

British in Europe survey

British in Europe are currently running a survey to understand the difficulties UK citizens abroad may face in the registration and voting process, as well as their intention to participate in elections.

The survey asks for instance which documents people can access to prove their previous residence in the UK, what problems they had voting in the past, and if and how they plan to vote in the future.

“We need to get an up-to-date picture of British citizens living around the world and have information to make recommendations to the government, as it prepares secondary legislation,” Godfrey said. “If millions of people will exercise their voting rights, there will be consequences for council registration offices, post office and authorities that will manage the process, among other things” she argued.

The right to vote concerns only UK parliamentary elections and national referendums, not elections in the devolved administrations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, or at local level.

The survey is open to UK citizens living anywhere in the world and is available at this link.

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