Let me start by wishing everyone a Happy Christmas – despite the extraordinary circumstances of the Covid pandemic.
As you will have heard, to deal with rapidly rising infection numbers, London and parts of the South East and East of England moved into Tier 4. The latest information on this can be found at gov.uk/ coronavirus.
The next day, the French government announced major restrictions to travel from the UK into France.
As always, keeping UK nationals informed will be a priority for the Embassy
This has been a challenging year for everyone and now we all face a very unusual Christmas. So many are separated from our families in the UK or here in France – my thoughts are with all of you, especially those of you spending Christmas alone. I hope you manage to connect with your loved ones, even if it has to be virtually this year.
Like everyone else, we have had to adapt the Embassy’s Christmas celebrations and instead of inviting our French and British friends to a traditional Christmas dinner, we have tried to take Christmas to them.
At the Residence, we made over 80 Christmas puddings to send across France and donated homemade biscuits to thank staff at the Franco- British Hospital. Upheaval has dominated 2020, and some of that will no doubt continue, although the arrival of vaccines offers light at the end of the tunnel. As I write this, the EU Exit negotiations, which will help to shape the UK’s relationship with our European neighbours, are still underway. I will update The Connexion readers once we know the outcome.
For now some things remain uncertain but there is much we already know. From January 1, the way that UK nationals enter France will change. If you are resident in France, you will need to make sure you have a valid passport and proof of your residency. Details on which documents you need and how to apply for residency can be found in our Living in France Guide.
If you have British friends or families visiting you, they will also need a valid passport to enter. They will be able to stay for up to 90 days in every 180-day period without a visa.
However, changes to customs regulations from January 1 mean they will not be able to bring products such as cheese or meat with them from the UK. And they will need to make sure their pet cats and dogs have an Animal Health Certificate, signed by their UK vet. UK-issued EU pet passports will no longer be accepted.
Full details of the entry requirements for coming to France after January 1 are online at: tinyurl.com/ y7wmzteu. I encourage you to follow our social media channels for the latest updates, and for details of how to contact us at one of our Online Events or our weekly Facebook Q&A.
2021 will be a busy year for the UK on the world stage
Looking beyond the end of the transition period on January 1, however, we can be certain that 2021 will be a busy year for the UK on the world stage.
December saw the five-year anniversary of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change, with the (virtual) participation of the Prime Minister and HRH The Prince of Wales. We are proud to be hosting the next global climate change conference, COP26, with Italy, in Glasgow in November. We launch that in early January, so please do look out then for more details on this most important topic.
And that’s not all. In December, I was delighted to host the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak, in Paris to help launch the UK’s G7 2021 presidency and discuss the ongoing economic response to coronavirus. The government is developing an ambitious G7 agenda, which is an opportunity to address key health, economic and climate challenges with like-minded friends.
So next year sees the UK taking on a leadership role to tackle some of the greatest challenges we face globally.
The Embassy team and I will continue to play our part enabling France and the UK to work together on shared solutions, as well, of course, as being here for you.
And on that note, I wish you all a very happy and healthy New Year!