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The Withdrawal Agreement - what is it, what does it do and who does it cover?

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This is the first article (of a total of 6) in the January 2020 information campaign that we're running jointly with British in Europe, about the Withdrawal Agreement and how it affects you as a British citizen living in France or another EU country.

In this article we take a look at what the Withdrawal Agreement is (and what it isn’t), what it does, how it’s different from the no deal legislation that your host country will have produced, and who it covers.

The following articles will look specifically at

Residence rights and procedures;Health care, pensions and social security;Working rights, professional qualifications and family reunification;What's not covered by the WA;Frequently asked questions.



What is the Withdrawal Agreement? The Withdrawal Agreement is an international agreement between the EU and the UK that sets out how the UK’s EU membership will end. It covers the status and rights of both British citizens in the EU and EU nationals in the UK, the UK’s financial…

What do the election results mean for Brits in France?

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Today is a tough day for us. We know that people are shocked and angry and hurting, as we are ourselves after three and a half years of campaigning ... yesterday there was still a glimmer of hope that we might remain in the EU; today that's gone - it's a true Friday the 13th.

But while today is a time to hunker down and mourn, it's also for us a time to be pragmatic and look forward to what the results mean for British citizens in France and across the EU. And hard though it might be to accept right now, there is a bright side.

Always look on the bright side of life ... After last night's extraordinary landslide victory for the Tories, we can expect the Withdrawal Agreement to be passed in January. The Withdrawal Bill still has to go through Parliament, but with such a big majority it's hard to see how it could fail.

The citizens' rights chapter of the Withdrawal Agreement covers most of our current rights, with some exceptions such as continuing freedom of mov…

What's the big deal? Part 2: What do we know so far about how the Withdrawal Agreement will work in France?

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In the last article we looked at what the draft Withdrawal Agreement (WA) means for our ongoing rights as British citizens in Europe; in this one we home in on what we already know of how it would affect us in France.

This is, you'll notice a slightly shorter article. That's because we don't actually know very much yet! Like most of the other EU27 countries, the French Ministry of the Interior has, up until now, been focusing on procedures for implementing a no deal scenario and little focus has yet been given to how a Withdrawal Agreement would be implemented or what we would have to do to receive new residence cards under it. All the indications are that they won't begin that process until the UK government has voted the Withdrawal Agreement through.

We're in regular touch with the officials who head up the relevant team at the Ministry, and we also have regular calls with the citizens' rights team at the British Embassy in Paris, so you can rest assured that…

What's the big deal? Part 1: what does the draft Withdrawal Agreement mean for us?

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As I write this, opinion polls are strongly suggesting that there will be a Conservative majority in the upcoming election. If that happens, Boris Johnson will bring his Withdrawal Agreement back to Parliament before Christmas. Because he'd have a majority it's pretty sure to be ratified, which means that in this situation the UK will almost certainly leave the EU on (or even before) 31 January 2020.

That's bad news and less bad news for us. The bad: the UK would leave the EU, there would be no second referendum, and we would lose our EU citizenship on Brexit day. The less bad news: the Withdrawal Agreement does a much better job of protecting our rights than France's no deal ordonnance and decree.

At France Rights and British in Europe we've been working flat out on no deal issues for well over a year now, and almost all the info and news we've put out during that time has been about the no deal scenario. So it's very likely that you - like us! - have lost…

The December election Part 2: voting tactically to secure a remainer majority and safeguard our rights

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You don't need us to tell you that the election on 12 December really is the Big One: our future rights, as British citizens who've exercised our free movement rights to live in France, depend on its outcome. It doesn't come more critical than that. So in the two articles in this series we've gathered together everything that you need to know about whether you can vote, how to vote, and how to decide who to vote for.

The first article covered the practicals to do with voting - how to register, how to vote, how to become involved even if you can't vote and so on.

In this second article we look at what the different outcomes of the election could mean for our future rights and how best to use that information to make an informed choice about who to vote for in your constituency.




What might the different outcomes mean for our future rights?Conservative majority
Many of the moderates have stood down, which means the party's makeup will have changed and its MPs will …

The December election Part 1: the nuts and bolts of registration and voting for Brits in France

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You don't need us to tell you that the election on 12 December really is the Big One: our future rights, as British citizens who've exercised our free movement rights to live in France, depend on its outcome. It doesn't come more critical than that. So in the two articles in this series we've gathered together everything that you need to know about whether you can vote, how to vote, and how to decide who to vote for.

In this first article we cover the practicals to do with voting - how to register, how to vote, how to become involved even if you can't vote and so on. A second article will look at what the different outcomes of the election could mean for our future rights and how best to use that information to make an informed choice about who to vote for in your constituency.




Can I vote? As a UK citizen resident abroad, you can register online to vote in UK parliamentary elections if you meet all three of these conditions:

you are 18 years of age or over;you left …

S1 cover in France in a no deal Brexit - fact or fudge?

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With the recent media interest in S1 health care cover in a no deal scenario, and some conflicting info running in various places about how it might or might not affect us here in France, we thought it was time for a bit of a reality check.

While we’d love to be able simply to reassure you and say that there will be no change at all from the present, we don’t think it’s necessarily as simple as that. There is no question that everyone currently holding an S1 will continue to receive health care under the French system - that's a given, so please don't worry about that - it's more about the conditions of receiving that health care - the small print, if you like.




The UK government / embassy’s view ... and our view Here’s what the embassy has to say: Healthcare after Brexit. Taken at face value, it’s rather reassuring ... but although we believe that France does have our interests at heart here, in our view there are some gaps that are either not addressed at all, or somewha…

S1 based health cover after Brexit - an update, and getting beyond the confusion and misunderstanding

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The UK government's statement yesterday (read about it in yesterday's news update, here: https://www.francerights.info/2019/09/new-uk-government-contingency-plans-on.html) guaranteeing that as a fall back measure it would reimburse the health care costs for S1 holders for just 6 months after a no deal Brexit certainly caused a furore - as of course it should do.




I had at least 200 responses to my call for stories and testimonies from those who would be affected, and every single one was heartbreaking. A sample of these testimonies were taken to a meeting that British in Europe had yesterday afternoon with the Foreign Office minister Chris Pincher, who said that he found them 'genuinely helpful': you can read more about that meeting here: https://britishineurope.org/2019/09/24/bie-meets-chris-pincher/. My call for testimonies was also picked up by The Local, which ran an article on it today - you can read that here: https://www.thelocal.fr/20190924/pensioners-in-france-…

New UK government contingency plans on reciprocal health care - reassurance, or smoke and mirrors?

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Early this morning the UK government put out a press statement outlining its latest contingency plans on the reciprocal health care system - otherwise known as the S1 scheme. You may have heard Matt Hancock on the Today programme (we didn't, as this article was written before his interview!).

A quick reminder of what the S1 scheme is before we go any further: those with state pension and some disability benefits living in the EU have their health care funded by the UK rather than the country they live in, as do some posted workers and students. The same applies to, say, a retired French person living in the UK with a French pension, who will have her health care costs funded by France. The S1 is the name of the form used to certify those rights (it used to be called the E121).




So what does this latest government statement say?  In a nutshell it says this: that for 6 months after a no deal Brexit the UK Government will reimburse the healthcare costs (or pay providers directly where…