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British in Europe is the largest coalition group of British citizens living and working in Europe. With representation across the EU27, they actively campaign for the rights of UK citizens in the EU (UKinEU) and support EU citizens in the UK (EUinUK). British in Europe have been instrumental in the protection of rights so far and continue to be sought out by both sides of the negotiation for their expertise and knowledge. Staffed by volunteers, BiE needs your help. Donate today to ensure they can continue to protect the rights of British citizens living in Europe.

www.britishineurope.org which time a bilateral agreement will be reached between France and the UK. f) There will be two categories of cartes de séjours: • Individuals with less than five years’ legal residence will need to apply for temporary residence cards. • Individuals with more than five years’ legal residence will be entitled to apply for a ‘carte de résident longue durée’. The details of the cards available can be found on the RIFT site (see the information box) but again, until the decree is published, we will not know the levels of resource or additional criteria required for the different types of cards. One on-going concern is the ability of the French administration to process so many applications in a short space of time. Those of us who have already received EU CdS are expected to be able to exchange them on providing any additional information required and paying the fee. However, with only about 20% of Brits in France having already applied for their CdS, there will be a mountain to climb. The Vienne Préfecture have worked hard to streamline the process but are still only managing to complete 20-30 applications per week - the British population is estimated at 2,500. Other areas, such as Dordogne, with its much larger population of Brits, have hardly issued any residence permits yet. The French Government have proposed an online portal for applications but the dossiers would then be sent to each préfecture to process. Unless

fewer criteria are examined or additional resources are committed, it is difficult to see how the bottlenecks will be removed. There is an additional worry included in the ordonnance. We spoke in the last edition about reciprocity and how this should be for both the good as well as the not-so-good elements regarding the treatment of French citizens in the UK. Since then, the 65€ fee for Settled Status has been scrapped by the UK government and would remain so in the case of no-deal, yet there would be a charge for us. More worryingly, the scope of any reciprocity was widened in the ordonnance. The citizens’ rights provisions can be suspended by the passing of a simple decree if the French Government finds that the UK doesn’t grant equivalent treatment not only to French citizens living in the UK but also on the control of goods and passengers to and from the UK, and veterinary and phytosanitary control on imports from the UK. The ease with which our rights could be amended if legislated at a national level is one of the key reasons why getting protection at an EU level is so important.

WHERE NOW? This may be a moot point by the time LIVING has been delivered. A deal could have been finally agreed or an extension applied for. If not, then there are still other options on the table.

The first would be to decide that Brexit is not worth it for the UK and to revoke Article 50. This would stop the process in its tracks and the status quo would be maintained, although this is highly unlikely with the current government. Alternatively, a short extension could be requested to allow more time to seek an agreement. Given that this debate has gone on for 3 years, it is difficult to see what two months more would give other than time to manage a no-deal exit process more smoothly. Indications suggest the EU will be open to the request should Theresa May make it. Finally, a longer extension could be requested to allow the UK to take stock of the current position and decide whether to go back to the people for a People’s Vote. The European Parliament elections are considered a stumbling block to a longer extension but if there were a political will, a legal way could be found. As Eleanor Sharpston, the UK’s Advocate General at the Court of Justice of the European Union, tweeted, there have already been instances (such as the accession of Croatia to the EU) where similar obstacles have been overcome. Whatever happens though, British in Europe will continue to push for clarity on our rights. It is inexcusable that 1.2 million British nationals have been left to live with this level of uncertainty and worry for so long.

French driving licences The ability to legally drive is important for those of us living in rural communes here in France. For the past 12 months, the advice from both French and UK governments has been to ensure that you have a French licence before 29 March 2019 so that you can legally drive if there is no-deal. However, that has proved easier said than done. In October 2017, the service centralised from one where you apply locally to one where all requests from south west France are sent to Nantes. Soon the service became overwhelmed and applications began to be processed in any order. Extra staff were drafted in but the backlog continued to grow. Things came to a head in early March when the website of the Loire-Atlantique Préfecture posted a message stating that they would now only exchange British licences that were lost/stolen, about to expire, needed points adding to them,

or needed additional driving categories added. All other dossiers sent in would be returned and Britons needed to ‘be patient’. Those who had sent in their papers before March 2018 were invited to contact the service as these would be processed. During a recent Facebook Q&A, the French Minister for European Affairs, Nathalie Loiseau, implied that there would be a period of grace in the case of no-deal although this has not been put into writing yet.

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Living Magazine April/May 19