How could Brexit affect our rights?

You have reported on the EU/UK talks and expat rights. On permanent residency for retired people a table showed agreement, saying ‘2004/38 (retired people, permanent incapacity)’. What is permanent incapacity? We retired in 2011 and have been in France since 2014 due to UK citizenship. Will we be able to stay? C.H.

22 November 2017
By Oliver Rowland

The current talks relate to how those Britons who moved to other EU countries under EU free movement may have their key rights maintained. The EU has set the benchmark for this as having acquired ‘permanent residence’ under EU criteria.

This is obtained by EU citizens after five years of stable residence, dependent on having met certain legal residence criteria. It is proposed that those who have lived in France for less time on Brexit day should be allowed to stay to accrue five years.

The table refers to people who are retired OR receiving long-term incapacity benefit. To acquire qualifying years of residence France says they should have comprehensive health cover (such as via a British S1 if a UK state pensioner) and enough income so as not to be a ‘burden’ to the state. There is leeway on the latter point but the minimum required may not be more than the amount of Aspa (for retired people) or RSA for working age people: €9,638/year for a single person or €14,964 (couple) for Aspa and, for RSA, €6,546 or €9,819.

The current EU position is that those meeting the criteria will not have to have a card proving it but you may nonetheless wish to apply for a carte de séjour or at least gather documents such as five years of utility bills, tax statements etc. If people have no proof of stable, legal residence after Brexit it is possible their right to reside could be subject to tougher criteria as for other non-EU immigrants (the same might apply to all Britons if there is ‘no deal’).

If we return to the UK when Brexit is finalised after living in France would we still have the right to live in the UK and how might we be affected? L.C.

Britons have the right to live in the UK (‘right of abode’). How you would be affected will depend on whether there is an ‘exit deal’ including citizens’ rights.

If not, for example, a French pension might be worth less when you claim it if Britons are not able to make use of EU ‘pension aggregation rules’ which avoid penalties for having partial careers in several EU states. You may also lose rights to ‘export’ some French benefits.

There might also be a complication in the early months for NHS healthcare if you cannot prove you are a ‘habitual UK resident’ but if you are a UK state pensioner you are automatically entitled to the NHS and, if you have a French EHIC (CEAM), that may tide you over.

subscribe newsletter image
Stay informed, have your say, join the community
Boost your inbox with our editor’s pick of news and information about France for residents and second homeowners
By joining the newsletter, you agree to our Terms & Conditions and Privacy Policy
See more popular articles
The Connexion Help Guides
Moving to and Living in France Guide 2018
Featured Help Guide
164 pages of essential information covering a range of subjects to take you through the basics of the practical side of life in France. Ideal for people looking to move to France as well as those who are already here. The information has been researched by our journalists, who have all made the move here, and compiled with the help of experts.
Get news, views and information from France
You have 2 free subscriber articles left
Subscribe now to read unlimited articles and exclusive content
Already a subscriber? Log in now