RIFT meet with the European Commission
An update on what we’ve been doing behind the scenes.
On Thursday 24 November, James, Kim and Justine of the RIFT team had a video meeting with the European Commission.
We hope to meet again soon to further address the issues we face here in France.
Specialists at the Commission handle direct complaints, and concerns raised by UK authorities, and they proactively work with Member States (potentially taking cases to the CJEU if there is evidence of general infringement).
The problems we identified previously for British citizens in France are known and have been acted upon. They had already received a detailed e-mail on this from RIFT and are familiar with the 2 official complaints we submitted.
They rely on input from official stakeholders such as RIFT.
Here is a summary of some of the key points of our meeting.
We learnt more about the workings of the Commission secretariat for the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights, which acts as the “guardian” of the WA, to ensure that part 2 is properly implemented in both the EU and the UK. We can expect to see detailed annual reports from the Commission on their work going forward.
The Committee has met 11 times and held a meeting in London last week.
We discussed the court case brought by the IMA in the UK, with a contribution from the “ 3 Million”, concerning the cliff-edge scenario for the loss of WA rights. This could serve as a precedent for Member States too but this isn’t expected to be an issue in France.
We presented the outstanding issues in France with a focus on youth issues including:
- decentralised system, prefectures don’t always follow the rules and are slow;
- French authorities ask for excessive information;
- DCEM is just a piece of paper without biometrics and reduced protection from child trafficking and it is not always accepted by border guards; children are being charged 50 euros when it should be free of charge;
- some children/youths without WARPs are being penalised by regularisation visas;
- new applicants are being given a récépissé, which is not a certificate of application;
- replacing a lost or stolen WARP should be free of charge but some are being charged;
- no standard process for joining spouses or youth turning 18;
- requests for cards showing permanent status at 5 years are not usually processed and French authorities are waiting to do this at renewal;
- a new online portal has been announced and should be useful for changes to existing cards but requests are still dealt with by prefectures; we mentioned RIFT’s input for the Assemblée Nationale when this online system was considered;
- issues with the current online system for lost/stolen/DCEMs ;
- the free top-up medical insurance (CSS, formerly CMU- C) has been removed for S1 holders, which is bad timing;
- it was pointed out that while driving licences were not covered by the WA, the failure to give people the correct documentation was preventing them from exchanging their GB licence, in particular seniors and for those aged between 14-18 years old unable to apply for a new licence without either DCEM or WARP.
We discussed renewals and, according to their exchanges with Member States, the Commission expects their interpretation to be complied with.
Non-permanent status does not expire but is automatically upgraded after 5 years of continuous residence. France may check if absences have been exceeded (but it is unclear how).
To assess continuous residence, absences should be counted strictly for non-permanent residents, but for permanent residents one day back in France would be sufficient to break the 5-year absence (based on recent CJEU case law) and the renewal process should be simpler.
Do let us know if you have an issue you would like to be considered for future meetings.