Brexit deal rules for Britons in France clarified soon

The British Embassy hopes shortly to have ‘definitive’ answers on key issues about how Britons who live in France will secure their rights after Brexit day.

7 January 2020
Sarlat is one French town with many British residents, who should soon have clarity on procedures after Brexit day
By Oliver Rowland

An embassy spokeswoman told Connexion their teams are talking to the French authorities about issues such as carte de séjour applications, British driving licences and working rights of British fonctionnaires and they hope to be able to provide answers soon.

As most of the French Brexit legislation passed last year related to the no-deal scenario, many areas remain to be clarified concerning the deal scenario. And just as the UK Parliament is now debating a bill putting the provisions of the deal into domestic UK law, it is likely something similar will be needed in France, although the transition period should ensure that little changes for Britons in France immediately.

Connexion has asked the embassy and the French Interior Ministry for updates on such matters as:

  • Whether the new user-friendly French website that was set up for Britons to apply for the ‘third country citizen’ cartes de séjour that would be needed in the no-deal scenario will now be converted for applying for new cards certifying rights under the deal. According to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) Britons would have to apply for new cards by, at the latest, six months after the end of the transition period. It is not clear how Britons would prove their rights in between the end of the transition period and obtaining a card if they apply towards the end of the allotted time.
  • What will happen to applications already made on the new site
  • Will there be a new French law setting out simple procedures for the ‘Brexit deal’ cards?
  • Will there be an updated ‘deal scenario’ law allowing Britons established in France and using British driving licences to keep using them until they expire? There is nothing in the WA about driving licences and the law passed last year related to no-deal.
  • Will there be new legislation ensuring that, after Brexit with the deal, British fonctionnaires can stay in their jobs despite the fact that these posts are usually restricted to French and EU citizens?

Connexion understands that the latter issue is probably included under ‘equal treatment’ provisions in the Brexit deal, which is set to become a treaty between the UK and EU, however French legislation confirming it may also be required.

The expected January 31 Brexit day is now just over three weeks away and British MPs today resume detailed debate of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) Bill which was passed by the MPs on principle at the ‘second reading’ stage before Christmas.

The passing of this bill is a required step before the Brexit deal can finally be ratified on the UK side.

Today, MPs will debate matters including the fact the bill calls for the transition period to be strictly limited to 11-months. During the transition period the UK would continue to follow EU rules and make EU budget contributions, and the rights of Britons would remain similar apart from the right to vote or stand in local French elections this year.

The aim of the transition period is for the UK and EU to have breathing space so as to agree a ‘new relationship’ on a raft of cooperation matters currently dealt with via the UK’s EU membership, including issues of trade and security. EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier has called this an “improbable timeframe for an overall negotiation”. 

After this week the WA Bill will go to the House of Lords and, assuming it is finished in time, final ratification of the deal will then need a vote in the European Parliament, probably on January 29, and a simple majority will be needed for it to pass.

It is thought unlikely the European Parliament will veto the deal if it could lead to the UK leaving with no deal at all.

However its lead Brexit coordinator said last month the parliament’s consent should not be seen as automatic and he asked for more guarantees on citizens’ rights.

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

Get news, views and information from France