A British Embassy letter to UK nationals living in France

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by Ed Llewellyn, British Ambassador to France

Our new Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, made his first address to Parliament last week. His key message was that the UK must leave the EU on 31 October. He was clear that the Government’s main focus over the coming weeks would be to negotiate a new and better deal with the EU, one that will maximise the opportunities of Brexit. He intends to create a new partnership with the UK’s European friends, as warm, as close and as affectionate as possible.

The Prime Minister is confident that he can strike this new agreement, but has also said that it is vital that we prepare for No Deal. He gave a clear guarantee to EU nationals living in the UK, protecting their right to live and remain there. He made clear that protecting the rights of UK Nationals in the EU is an absolute priority for Government and that that he wanted to see a symmetrical response from EU Member States.

We would expect any future deal to protect citizens’ rights in the same way as the current Withdrawal Agreement.  And in the event that we leave without a deal, the French Government has passed legislation to explain how it would secure the rights of British citizens living here. This will involve applying for a residence permit through, we expect, a streamlined system. Our Living in France guide and the French Brexit website set out the details we have at this stage.

Thank you, as ever, for engaging with us.

Ed Llewellyn

Taking action

After the UK has left the EU, all UK nationals living in France will need to take action.
As a UK national who is resident in France, you should:

Please sign up to alerts on our website, join one of our meetings, speak to our Consular Section, and look out for French official information in the coming months.

Keeping in touch

British citizens remain the top priority for the Embassy and we are working to reach more and more UK nationals in France.

We do a lot of communication online — via the Living in France Guide, which always has the most up to date information we have on Brexit and what UK nationals will need to do to prepare; our monthly Facebook Q&A sessions which have reached over 120,000 people; and this quarterly email newsletter “Voisins Voices”.

We understand that not everyone is online so we’re also reaching UK nationals offline.

First, through citizens outreach meetings. These started in 2017 and have taken place across the country, with a focus on where most UK nationals live. We’ve now held over 70 meetings, with attendance from 10-400 people at each. These exchanges are not just a way for us to pass on information, but are also important to help us understand the issues that are of most concern to you and identify new issues that need to be addressed. We invite French local authorities to join us at these meetings so that participants can ask their questions directly to Préfecture staff where possible.

We advertise these meetings online, through GOV.UK and social media, as well as through local associations, expat media and the French regional press. We try to advertise meetings well in advance so that attendees can make plans, but if a last-minute meeting comes up in a particular area and we think we can hold an outreach meeting at the same time, we will always try to do so even if this means less notice. We know that this can be frustrating so we will re-double our efforts to advertise the longer term plan.

Secondly, our Consular teams in Paris, Marseille and Bordeaux have a special focus on reaching vulnerable persons and are therefore working with numerous local associations, expat groups, and the French Mayors’ Association to raise awareness and share information. We’ve sent posters to hundreds of town halls, and we also ask people attending our outreach meetings to display them in their towns and villages. The Consular teams also work on individual cases. They have helped resolve several cases — you may have seen some of this in the press recently — and raised awareness across the French system to try to avoid similar cases in the future. For example, the Embassy has supported individuals in a small number of cases where orders to leave the French Territory (Obligation de quitter la France) have been issued in error or where residency applications have been refused for specific reasons. We also have a network of Honorary Consuls, who raise cases of vulnerable Brits in their communities.

Thirdly, we try to work through the media at key moments in the Brexit process and provide information to expat media such as The Local and The Connexion. In March and April this year we ran adverts on the BBC website in France and broadcast messages on over a hundred English-speaking podcasts popular with Brits in France.

Finally, we have discussed the need for widespread and accessible communications with the French government and are expecting official French government information to be publicised when Brexit happens. As soon as that happens, we will amplify those messages through all Embassy channels. In the meantime we have translated several of their documents, which are available on the Living in France guide, and we are expecting an English version of their brexit.gouv.fr website to be available soon.

BUT we want to hear how we can best reach you. Are you worried about friends and neighbours who aren’t aware of what they will need to do after Brexit? How do these people get their news? Given the size of the country and the spread of the British community in France, what kind of approach would work best to get the information out as effectively as possible?

Please do encourage your friends to sign up to the Living in France Guide and to the mailing list for this newsletter.

IN OTHER NEWS…

 

Survey

We’ve had over 5,000 responses so far to our survey of UK nationals living in France, launched in May.  This has helped us understand further where Britons in France are living, what concerns them, and how they like to get their information. The survey is still open, so if you haven’t yet completed it, please do so and encourage friends and family in France to do the same.

Les Voisins on Tour

Last month, the Embassy went on tour to five French towns for the second year running, to reinforce Franco-British ties and remind our French friends and colleagues that the UK will continue to work in partnership across security, research, education and trade. We promoted British universities, culture, sport, and tourism using our red double-decker bus and London taxi, in a very visible demonstration of our continuing friendship. We also held five outreach meetings for around 400 people in Perpignan, Montpellier, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence and Nice, met local Préfecture officials to discuss how they’re handling Carte de Séjour requests, and hosted a pop-up Embassy to answer questions on citizens’ rights from British and French members of the public.
With thanks to our sponsors Easyjet, Tregothnan Tea, Walkers Shortbread

Upcoming outreach meetings

Facebook Q&A – 26/08: We’ll post an announcement on 26 August inviting you to ask your Brexit-related questions, and post answers back by the end of the week. Follow our Facebook page for updates.

CAEN – 12/09: Register here

PARIS – 16/09: Register here

Look out for further events in Périgueux, Lyon, Civray, and the greater Ile-de-France (Hauts-de-Seine, Seine-Saint-Denis, Val-de-Marne) also coming up in September/October. All events are advertised on GOV.UK.

Les Voisins on Tour stopped in Perpignan, Montpellier, Avignon, Aix and Nice in July.
During the tour, the team held five citizens outreach meetings to answer UK nationals’ questions and met with the local authorities to raise their concerns.

Call for Franco-British projects

The British Embassy in France supports ambitious and innovative local bilateral projects that strengthen the links between our two countries 🇫🇷 🇬🇧

Are you a local community, an association, a company, a university or any other organisation wanting to cultivate our bilateral relation? We’re looking for projects related to the following themes:

  • Environment and fight against climate change
  • Promotion of innovation, digital growth and regional attractiveness
  • Culture, heritage and sport
For more information and to apply, follow this link. Deadline: September 2, 2019.
LIVING IN FRANCE GUIDE

Find out the latest information on our Living in France Guide, which also includes information on how to access healthcare, get documents legalised, our lists of lawyers, etc.