BRITONS in France who believe they have been unfairly treated under EU rules can take action through a free problem-solving scheme called Solvit.
This is for EU citizens who feel internal market rules have not been properly followed and is an alternative to going to court.
This could include such matters as diplomas not being accepted in France or problems related to healthcare rights.
The service requires a simple application online (or by post) and works in tandem with the European Commission’s Your Europe Advice, which gives free, personalised advice on EU rights from legal experts within a week.
According to the EC, which runs the Solvit service in partnership with centres in national governments, the service “handles problems with a cross-border element that are due to bad application of EU law by public authorities”.
However, if you are unsure if this applies, it is best to use Your Europe Advice to clarify the situation first.
Both individuals and businesses can apply, in English, or you can apply on someone else’s behalf.
A spokesman for the UK’s Department for Business said it was appropriate for Britons living in France to approach the UK Solvit centre (you would therefore put UK when asked for your country of origin).
The British centre would be described as your “home” one, and its officials would work with their French counterparts, called the “lead centre”, aiming for a solution in 10 weeks.
The commission says the service is for people moving to another country for study or work, or to retire, or setting up businesses or wanting to sell products or services.
“While the internal market generally works well, mistakes are sometimes made. For example, you might have problems with getting a residence permit, getting your professional qualifications recognised or registering a car. Your employment, social security or tax rights might be denied.”
Once you have applied, officials check to see if your complaint is well-founded.
Where there has been an error by a French body, it is often possible to obtain speedy resolution; however, if solving the problem would require the removal of a national rule, formal legal action may be required.
Successful mediations have included stopping tax authorities from trying to tax a vineyard that was making no profit, speeding up an application for a non-French nursing qualification to be approved, and enabling a British weighing scales manufacturer to sell its products in France.
Apply online at http://ec.europa.eu/solvit/site/index_en.htm