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11-month talks race begins between EU and Britain

An 11-month transition period begins when the UK leaves the European Union on January 31, with the negotiated deal protecting most rights for existing British residents in France in place.

During this time, all remaining elements of the “future relationship” are on the table for discussion.

Britons in France may fear a slump in the UK economy – not least because many receive income in pounds.

But the “future relationship” is not limited to trade, and some key rights were put off until these coming talks.

These include “continuing free movement” for Britons in the EU, ie. the right to move on from France to another EU country and keep your EU rights.

Other areas must also be agreed on, such as regulations on UK-EU flights, defence and security cooperation, the Erasmus student scheme, university fees, and family reunification for future spouses or family members.

A replacement for Ehic health cards used by holiday home-owners and visitors to France – and UK pensioners in France when they travel to other EU countries – is also to be discussed.

Talks will be needed too on UK pensioners’ healthcare and UK pension uprating for future newcomers, and future immigration rules.

Barring agreement to the contrary, Britons moving to the EU in the future will be subject to the “third country” visa and residency card rules.

Britons will find it harder to get work in France, jobseekers will be barred, and those wanting to set up on their own will need a convincing business plan.

Non-workers will require income equivalent to the minimum wage (Smic in French), which is currently €1,539.42 gross per month.

Britons will not be able to hold fonctionnaire jobs, such as state school teachers, and many seasonal jobs will no longer be available. Some unfinished areas may be subject to UK/France deals.

In the case of pensioner healthcare and pension uprating for newcomers, a previous UK/France social security convention may be reinstated.

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson is insisting on the short timeframe and although he admits a deal may not be agreed, believes one is “epically likely”.

EU leaders are not so sure and groups for Britons hope remaining rights issues are not forgotten in the rush. The European Commission’s president says everything cannot be agreed in this time and they will have to prioritise.

The EU wants a “level playing field” on many regulatory issues if an “ambitious” trade deal is to be agreed, but the UK has already stated that it does not want to align with EU rules.

The timeframe will actually be less than 11 months, as February will be spent formalising negotiation objectives and several months may be needed to ratify. The EU says it is premature to say what this will involve.

However, “mixed” treaties including trade and other elements usually require a vote in each national EU Parliament and some regional ones.

The end of June is the deadline to agree to an extension to the transition period but it has already been written into UK law that this cannot happen.   

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