France after Brexit: what are the consequences for British citizens?

Brexit – United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union: withdrawal agreement conditions – Press release issued by the Ministry of the Interior

Paris, 31 January 2020

Following the ratification of the withdrawal agreement concluded between the United Kingdom and the European Union, the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union will take effect from midnight on 31 January 2020. The withdrawal agreement provides for a transition period until 31 December 2020. Tonight’s Brexit deadline will therefore have only a limited direct impact:

Entry and residence rights for British nationals and their family members after Brexit

The withdrawal agreement sets out the conditions for British nationals to stay in France. It provides for all the rights British nationals acquired as European nationals to be maintained during the transition period until 31 December 2020.

The withdrawal agreement’s provisions will apply to British nationals and their family members who are already settled in France or settle in France before 31 December 2020.

Under the agreement, British nationals must obtain a “Withdrawal Agreement” residence permit which they will be obliged to hold from 1 July 2021. Prior to that date, they are under no obligation to hold a French residence permit.

To allow British nationals to apply early for their residence permit online, the website, tailored to the withdrawal agreement’s provisions, will be accessible from July 2020.

British nationals and their family members who have already applied for a residence permit on the website set up for a potential no-deal Brexit do not need to reapply online. Their application has been taken into account and will be processed by the prefecture before they are required to hold a permit.

For further information, please visit the government information website

Police checks at the France-UK border

Checks carried out by French border police at crossing points on the France-UK border will remain unchanged during the transition period until 31 December 2020, both into and out of the Schengen Area.

No extra delay is therefore anticipated and the current smooth flow of travellers will be maintained.

British nationals’ right to vote and stand in municipal and European elections in France

The withdrawal agreement between the European Union and the UK contains no transitional provisions on the electoral rights of British people in member states. On the contrary, the agreement specifies that the clauses of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union which provide for European citizens’ right to vote and stand in European and municipal elections, and the acts adopted on the basis of these provisions, are not applicable to the UK during the transition period set out in the agreement.

Moreover, in France the right to vote and stand in elections requires possession of French nationality or, for municipal and European elections, the nationality of a European Union member state.

Consequently, from Saturday 1 February onwards, British nationals will cease to enjoy electoral rights in France which were linked to their European citizenship, and this will trigger their automatic removal from the electoral roll.

British nationals will therefore be unable to vote or be candidates in the municipal and communal elections of 15 and 22 March 2020.

However, British municipal councillors elected before 1 February will remain in office until their term of office expires, as there is no legal provision for their compulsory resignation./.

Brexit – Situation of British residents in France – Reply by M. Laurent Nuñez, Minister of State attached to the Minister of the Interior, to a question in the National Assembly

Paris, 4 February 2020

Indeed, at midnight on Friday the British left the European Union, beginning a transition period during which discussions will be held, as Amélie de Montchalin and Didier Guillaume have explained – I won’t return to that, because those issues don’t come under my remit.

Brexit actually has one immediate effect: the loss of the right to vote and stand for office of British citizens living on French territory. More than 46,000 British citizens have therefore been automatically removed from the electoral roll by INSEE, the National Institute of Statistics and Economic Studies. The President of the Association of Mayors of France was informed of this by the Interior Minister, and a circular was sent to prefects [high-ranking civil servants representing the state at departmental or regional level], then to mayors, so that they can warn the voters concerned. This is unfortunately the consequence of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

Likewise, 757 current municipal councillors may now retain their seats only until the municipal elections in March, when they won’t be able to stand. We may regret the British decision, but the immediate consequence is the one you’ve described, and no discussion is possible regarding this aspect of citizenship.

However, I want to recall two things. The first is that it’s obviously possible for these people to apply for French nationality, which, as you know, Britons are increasingly doing: 1,500 of them did so in 2016 and 4,000 in 2019. The requirements for obtaining nationality are the same for EU nationals as for those of non-EU countries.

Secondly, we’re adapting the practical arrangements for obtaining residence permits, because British citizens will now have to possess one: until July 2021, applications can be made via a platform we’ve created to facilitate ./.

Published on 25/02/2020

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