Thursday, April 15

Current rules for Brits in France are only as good as they’re going to be, says former UK ambassador


The venue spoke with Peter Ricketts, who served as the British Ambassador to France between 2012 and 2016, at an event organized by the Anglo-American Press Association in Paris where he shared his views on Brexit, future negotiations and the place of Gran Britain in the world.

And on the subject of rules for UK citizens living in the EU or visiting regularly, his message was stern: the current deal is the ‘highest point’ and is unlikely to be improved.

He said: “I can’t see this government spending time or negotiating capital on these issues, I think expat rights are not a priority for either the UK government or the EU governments.

“The agreements that are in place now are the highest watermark.”

Britons who lived in the EU before December 31, 2020 are covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, which offers broad guarantees that they can stay in the countries they call home, although those who live in France must. apply for a green card.

However, the Withdrawal Agreement is not an exact replica of the rights granted as a citizen of an EU country and does not cover issues such as the freedom to move to another EU country or voting rights.

READ ALSO Brexit Withdrawal Agreement: what is it and does it cover me?

Peter Ricketts with Queen Elizabeth II at the British embassy in Paris in 2014. Photo by MARTIN BUREAU / AFP

Britons not living in France are now subject to third country national rules (the same rules that previously applied to other non-EU citizens such as Americans, Canadians and Australians) which restrict stays to 90 days or less and require visas for longer stays.

Britons who want to work in EU countries now need work permits for many jobsand visas if they plan to work for more than 90 days.

READ ALSO How can British second home owners spend more than 90 days in France?

There are several petitions and campaigns underway calling for a relaxation of these rules, especially around the 90-day rule, which has had a major impact on UK second-home owners, who had become used to spending long periods on your French estates. without having to worry about visas.

However, Lord Ricketts said he thought it was “unlikely” that these would be effective, adding that the UK government is likely to prioritize its negotiating time for trade and security talks, rather than the rights of workers. second home owners.

The ambassador retired from the diplomatic service in 2016, but now sits in the House of Lords as a life partner and acts as a consultant to the defense firm Lockheed Martin.

Giving his impression of the Brexit negotiations, he said: “I think we were all surprised by how difficult it was in the end, and how the deal was left for the last days of December and how poorly prepared the UK government was. it was, particularly in relation to the protocol around the Irish border. “

He said he feared a “very bad adversarial relationship” between the UK and the EU, but added that the UK and France had better bilateral relations thanks to close military cooperation and a 50-year treaty on nuclear cooperation.

And those hoping for a better relationship between the UK and the EU may have to wait 10-15 years for the next generation of British politicians, according to Lord Ricketts.

He said: “I don’t think the generation that has grown up with Easyjet, Eurostar and Erasmus is satisfied with a distant relationship with the EU, I think they will want to get closer when they take power in 10 or 15 years. That’s when the relationship will be restored. “

Peter Ricketts’ book Hard Choices: Britain and the New Geometry of Global Power is published on May 13.

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