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BREXIT

Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents

The European Commission has asked border police from member states across the bloc not to stamp the passports of those British nationals protected by the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents
A person holds up a British National passport (Photo by Anthony WALLACE / AFP)

Britons living across the EU have long been concerned about the knock-on effect of their passport being wrongly stamped when travelling in and out of the Schengen zone.

While British officials at embassies across Europe have repeatedly stressed the passports of those Britons protected by the Brexit deal should not be stamped, those instructions appear not to have filtered through to border guards.

The erroneous stamps have left many passport holders resident in the EU worrying about being accused of overstaying the 90-day limit in their host country.

This week the EU Commission has stressed that passports should not be stamped, but reassured Britons that if they are there will be no negative consequences.

“The Commission recommends – notably as regards beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement – that Member State border guards refrain from stamping. In any case, should stamping nevertheless take place, such stamp cannot affect the length of the authorised long-term stay,” read their latest guidance.

“EU law does not prevent border guards from stamping upon entry to and exit from the Schengen area of travel documents of United Kingdom nationals who are beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement who are in possession of a valid residence permit issued by a Schengen Member State. The same applies to their family members in the same situation.”

The Commission added that the usual limitation of a stay of 90 days in a 180 days’ period in the Schengen area does not apply to Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement “irrespective of whether their passport has been stamped or not”.

But it reminded Britons that they only have the right to stay in their country of residence. If they travel within the Schengen area to another EU country they are subject to the 90 day rule. 

It recommended Britons “proactively present” their post-Brexit residency cards  – if they have one – at the border to prove their status. However not all Britons in the EU have post-Brexit residency cards because they are only compulsory in certain countries.

Britons in countries such as Spain and Italy, where the cards are not obligatory but available, are urged to apply as soon as possible. 

Those who don’t have the cards are told to use any documentation “that credibly proves that the holders exercised the right to move and reside freely in the host Member State before the end of the transition period and continue to reside there.”

“Documents indicating the address of the person can show continued residence after the end of the transition period. “

Member comments

  1. It would be useful if the article contained a link to the original document

  2. This is a useful article! Do you have a link to the Commission’s communication?

    [Slight correction to the title: WA beneficiaries are not only British]

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TOURISM

What to know when visiting France’s lavender fields this summer

Known affectionately as 'blue gold,' France’s lavender fields are a popular tourist attraction every year. Here is what you need to know about visiting them:

What to know when visiting France's lavender fields this summer

Lavender is the “soul of Provence,” the French region where the fields can be found. Like wine, lavender was brought to France around 2,000 years ago by the Romans. The flower is the emblem of ‘Haute Provence’ regional identity, though the fields stretch from just outside of Nice almost all the way up to Valence, and they are not fully exclusive to France.

Even the washerwomen, those whose job it was to clean clothes and linen, were referred to as les lavandières in France. 

The flowers, which can be found mainly in two species in Provence, have several uses – as oils for cooking and bathing, as a perfume for soaps, and even as an antiseptic for healing wounds and scars.

The lavender essential oil that comes from Provence is even an AOP (L’Appellation d’origine protégée) in France. 

When is the best time to see the fields?

Typically, the lavender flowers from around mid-June to early-to-mid August. However, depending on the weather, especially if there is a drought or hotter temperatures, the lavender might flower sooner than normal, which is likely the case for this year.

This is unfortunately also a side effect of climate change, which might be pushing up the lavender flowering season.

Where should I go?

The Valensole plateau is perhaps the most famous place to go for lavender fields. Speckled with several small Provencal towns, the area is beautiful, with a mountainous backdrop in the distance. If you go here, you might also be able to see the sunflower fields too.

Sault is perhaps a bit less known, partially because due to its altitude, the lavender typically flowers a bit later.

It is still a great place to go see the fields, and every year the town hosts a Lavender Festival in August. Walking (or cycling) between the villages (Aurel, Saint-Trinit and Saint-Christol) is very manageable.

This is not too far from the Sénanque Abbey, a medieval 12th century abbey which is surrounded by lavender fields. You might notice some small stone houses called bories in the fields, which were historically used for field workers.

Luberon Valley is another location that comes highly recommended. In the area, there is a regional national park, home to rosé wines, castles (chateaux) and charming villages, like Gordes, a stunning hilltop village.

Here you can also find the Musée de la Lavande, if you are looking to learn more about harvesting, producing and distilling lavender, its industry, and some interesting regional history.

How to get there?

You can take a TGV train to Aix-en-Provence or Avignon, or rent a car. With a car, you can also enjoy the several scenic routes that allow you to see the fields from the roads.

What else is there to do while in the region?

The area is also known for its rosé wine, so you could take the opportunity to go visit some vineyards or spend some time wine-tasting. 

In the summer months, the south of France can get quite warm. If you are looking to go swimming or enjoy the water, the Gorges du Verdon are not too far away. Though a bit of a tourist hotspot, the canyon is a beautiful and a wonderful place for paddling along in a canoe.

If you’re a fan of hiking, you can always go for a (light) hike along the Ochre Trail near Roussillon. Here, there are two marked paths that will take you through sunset-colored red and yellow cliffs in an old quarry.

Words of Wisdom

Unless you have been given express permission, do not pick the lavender, as this is the farmer’s livelihood. You can always buy a bouquet from nearby souvenir shops for your photo shoots! 

Also, stick to the paths that exist to avoid trampling any crops, and of course do not litter in the fields. 

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