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90-day rule blocks Monty Python Eric Idle attending Paris premiere

The EU visiting limit is also causing issues for UK removal firms

Monty Python’s Eric Idle had no days left under the 90/180 day rule to attend the premiere of Spamalot at the Théâtre de Paris Pic: Featureflash Photo Agency / Shutterstock

The 90/180-day visiting rule for non-EU citizens has been causing problems for removal firm workers from the UK – as well as for a member of the Monty Python team, who could not attend the premiere of a show based on the classic British comedy.

Read more: 90/180-day rule: French senator wants help for UK second-home owners

Python star spent too long at his French holiday home

The comedy veteran, Eric Idle, recently discovered he had no days left under the 90/180 day rule to come to France for the premiere of a staging of Spamalot at the Théâtre de Paris, at the end of September.

The show was a hit in France in 2010 after opening on Broadway in 2005 and is returning with a new cast, scenery and costumes, and a revamped text. 

Idle wrote the text and songs for the musical comedy, based on the film Monty Python and the Holy Grail

Director and star Pierre-François Martin-Laval (‘Pef’) said that Mr Idle had spent too long at his holiday home in Cotignac, in the Var in the south. 

“We’ve sent a little video in hopes of persuading Mr Macron [to help],” he said. 

Spamalot runs until April 28.

The Connexion has also learned that international removal specialists have been stopped at the French borders to face questions about ‘overstaying’ in the EU’s Schengen area.

No provisions made for removals or HGV drivers

We previously asked the European Commission if anything was provided in the EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement (Brexit deal) for people such as British HGV drivers who regularly cross the Schengen border for work, but were told it was not.

As a result, they are subject to the usual visiting rules that restrict people of non-EU nationalities from countries such as the UK and US, who are not subject to short-stay visas, to no more than 90 days visa-free in any 180-day period.

There are concerns about what will happen, in particular, when all non-EU visitors – unlike residents – will be subject to new digitised European Entry/Exit System (EES) checks in around a year’s time. 

The issue could be key in possible renegotiations, such as those recently alluded to by the UK’s opposition leader Sir Keir Starmer.

Read more: Immigration bill: amendment for non-French second-home owners expected

Border guards wanted explanation for passport stamps

One international delivery firm, Watson European, told us that the issue came up recently when two of its movers flew to Limoges to join a driver bringing items back to the UK and were told their days had run out. 

Transport planner Andy Gash said: “We’d heard rumours of it happening to other tran­sport firms, where people have been turned back in Holland, for example. 

“We’re in and out every week via the ferry ports and haven’t had a problem so far, but the lads had trouble at Limoges. 

“The border guards put them to the back of the queue and asked them to explain why they had so many stamps in their passport, and told them that they travel too often. They explained that it was for work, not holidays.

“Our guys spend a lot of time in the rest of Europe as a natural consequence of the kind of business we do.”

Read more: France visits: In what situations can I break EU’s 90/180-day rule?

‘We were forgotten in negotiations’

He said the workers were first informed they would need to apply for visas and work permits, but were eventually allowed to go after being told to bring an attestation letter next time, saying they are working in the EU.

“But what will happen when the whole passport system goes digital?” Mr Gash asked. 

“It’s like we were forgotten in the negotiations. We just don’t exist. Any visas I can see imply you work for a French firm and live in France. 

“This needs to be clarified before the EES comes in.”

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