Assuming the European Union (Withdrawal Agreement) Bill 2019 – 2020 is ratified by the UK and EU parliaments, the UK is set to leave the EU on 31 January 2020.
To understand the implications of this on our rights as UK citizens living in France, we need to refer to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) originally agreed with the EU by Theresa May’s government. Although Boris Johnson’s government has amended that deal, the aspects relating to Citizens Rights remain the same.
You can read the full text of the WA here
The section on Citizens Rights begins around p14 – Article 9 onwards. The WA is set out in Articles and we refer to the relevant ones by number below.
The short summary below sets out our position post Brexit day.
Who does the agreement cover?
For the purposes of our summary, the agreement covers citizens rights for UK citizens living in an EU host state (in this case France) and their family*, who have been living in accordance with European Union rules, before the end of the transition period. Qualifying people are then covered by the WA thereafter.
Living in accordance with European Union rules means having been exercising your right to freedom of movement in accordance with the EU regulations. You can check out the regulations on our website
What is the Transition Period and when does it end?
The Transition Period (TP), sometimes referred to as the Implementation Period, is the period of time during which the UK and the EU will negotiate and agree the remaining aspects of the UK leaving the EU. Put in simple terms the WA was the separation agreement; the TP will be the period during which the fine details of the future relationship between the UK and the EU, for example trade agreements, is agreed. It is currently set to end on 31 December 2020, but there is speculation, despite his saying otherwise, that the UK Prime Minister will seek to extend the period.
Rights of residence (Article 13)
· For those who have (or will have) lived in France for a continuous period of 5 years or more on 31 December 2020, the WA provides the right to permanent residence in your host state. Once acquired, the right of permanent residence shall be lost only through absence from the host State for a period exceeding 5 consecutive years. See Article 15 of the WA.
· For those who are resident in France at the end of the TP (31 December 2020), but who have not been resident for a continuous period of 5 years or more, the WA provides the right to accumulate a residency of 5 years after the TP in order to qualify for permanent residence. For example, if you arrived on 30 June 2017, you have the right to build up 5 full years of residence and apply for permanent residence on 1 July 2022. Your application will be protected by the WA and therefore you will not be applying as a Third Country National (TCN). See Article 16 of the WA.
How the French system is going to process us is not yet determined. You will recall that they had previously set up a ‘No Deal’ online application system and it would seem sensible to assume that they will adapt that system for UK citizens protected by the WA. Once we have any further information about this, we will post an update.
The WA (Article 18) doesn’t require the EU host state to issue a card or other documentation, but it is likely that the French will issue a Carte de Séjour (or similar).
It’s worth noting that the WA says
“the host State shall ensure that any administrative procedures for applications are smooth, transparent and simple, and that any unnecessary administrative burdens are avoided;”
“application forms shall be short, simple, user friendly and adapted to the context of this Agreement; applications made by families at the same time shall be considered together;”
“the document evidencing the status shall be issued free of charge or for a charge not exceeding that imposed on citizens or nationals of the host State for the issuing of similar documents;
Workers and Self-employed Workers Rights
Articles 24 and 25 set out that there should be no discrimination against UK citizens protected by the WA and that they are afforded the same employment/self-employment rights as nationals of their host country.
Additionally, professional qualifications will continue to be recognised. There is more specific information on the WA about professional qualifications which may be relevant to some of our members. Please see Articles 27, 28 & 29 for more details.
Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on the coordination of social security systems deals at present with reciprocal healthcare cover across the EU member states – for our purposes, the provision of the S1 to either those in receipt of a state pension from the UK or posted workers.
Article 30 of the WA sets out how this will be affected by the UK’s exit from the EU. In simple terms, assuming you continue to be a person covered by the WA, you will continue to be covered by the reciprocal arrangements of Regulation (EC) No 883/2004.
Pensions, Uprating, Aggregation and Exportable benefits
Article 30 deals with social service systems between the UK and the EU post Brexit.
Regulation (EC) No 883/2004 is key to this part of the WA. The WA provides that anyone who is covered by the WA (see above) is still entitled to benefit to the reciprocal rights set out in the regulation.
Put in simple terms a person covered by the WA will be given equal treatment to an EU citizen. Therefore, current arrangements in place, such as lifetime pension uprating, will continue. Contributions made before and after end date of the TP will be recognised for those covered by the WA.
The coming weeks
The UK are almost certainly going to leave the EU in the next month. In the weeks that follow, it will become clearer what steps we each need to take, and how we are to take them, to formalise our residency in France. In the coming weeks, we will continue to liaise with the British Embassy in Paris and other relevant departments and will bring you updates as we receive them.
We would suggest that members continue, or start, to collate the documentation to prove their residence in order that you are ready once the French government has finalised the application system. We would also urge anyone who is not exercising their rights in accordance with the regulation set down by the EU (see above a link to our website) begins to regularize their situation without delay.
*For the legal definition please refer to the WA.
Here are some useful links for further reading.