French order on Britons' no-deal rights published

uncertainty over a possible no deal Brexit as Dominic Raab meets Michel Barnier

A fast-tracked French law setting out the rights of British people living in France in the case of a no-deal Brexit has been published today.

It establishes residency and other arrangements for Britons resident before Brexit day – however it comes with the caveat that the rights it contains could be cancelled if French people do not obtain the same ones in the UK. It would take effect immediately after a no-deal Brexit.

A summary of its contents has been published on the French government website at this link  (it is in French only but is translated by us below) and the full law is here.

It allows for a period of three months to one year (to be clarified by decree) after Brexit day – whether March 29, 2019 or later if an extension is agreed by the two sides - to obtain a non-EU citizen carte de séjour under special rules different from­ - and easier than - those for other non-EU citizens. Precise practical arrangements have not been given but we note the use of the word obtain rather than ‘apply’ when referring to the time period. 

It says those who already have a carte de séjour - séjour permanent as an EU citizen will be able to swap it for a long-term resident non-EU citizen one (carte de résident de longue durée - UE).

Importantly, the law allows for access to healthcare under EU rules to continue for two years, pending any agreement being signed with the UK on the two states paying for their respective citizens' healthcare in the other state; it says the situation would be reviewed after this.

This refers essentially to British state pensioners with S1 forms (ie. not workers, who obtain their healthcare rights via the social charges they pay, or those with French pensions). The financing arrangements for the pensioners' healthcare in this period is not clear.

Britons claiming RSA income support benefit would be allowed to continue to do so for a year in the same conditions as now, the law adds.

The law was passed by government order, as provided for in the recent law passed by Parliament to help France prepare for the no-deal scenario. Such orders may be published directly in Le Journal Officiel without any debate in Parliament, but must be presented to Parliament for ratification within six months or they become invalid.

Here is a translation of the summary text published today on the site of the Conseil des Ministres (French cabinet). The above remarks are also based on our reading of the actual law, and we will be publishing further analysis in our March edition. You can subscribe to receive it at home until February 12, at this link.

As regards the right of entry and residency, the order provides for a specific regime for British nationals who were already legally residing in France at the time of the United Kingdom's withdrawal. It thus provides for a period of up to one year to allow these British nationals to obtain a residency card and establishes special conditions for access to these cards, different from the ordinary third country national residency rules.

As regards social security rights and benefits, the order allows for maintaining for one year the eligibility of British nationals receiving RSA income support residing in France on the date of withdrawal. It ensures the continuity of healthcare coverage under the current conditions arising from European Union law for a period of two years. The conditions for taking into account in France periods of insurance or employment completed in the United Kingdom [ie. for purposes of pension aggregation] are also determined by the order.

A decree may suspend the special measures relating to the rights of residency, RSA and healthcare, if the government finds that the United Kingdom does not grant French nationals present on its territory treatment equivalent to that provided for in this order or in the order on the preparation for the withdrawal of the UK from the EU in respect of road transport of persons and goods and of safety in the Channel Tunnel.

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