Campaign group ‘disappointed’ by French response to 90/180 rule problem

A France lover campaigning for British visitors to be allowed to stay in France for 180 consecutive days has expressed “disappointment” at the French government‘s stance on the issue, which stresses that “the UK has done the choice” to “give up” his right to free movement in the EU.

Since Brexit came into effect, British visitors to France – and the rest of the Schengen area – can only spend 90 days out of 180 in the country – and in bulk – without needing to acquire a visa.

Read more: The EU 90/180 day rule: how does it work?

Read more: 90-day stay: is the 180-day period sliding or fixed at entry?

Several French senators have written to the government asking for the 90/180 rule to be reviewed, but the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs has now replied that it is not a decision that can be taken “unilaterally”. by France, as it relates to EU regulations. .

“Many British nationals feel aggrieved”

Finistère senator Michel Canévet put a written question to the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs, acknowledging that Britons who were already in France before Brexit could obtain withdrawal agreement residence permits.

He added that “many people”, perhaps those who had second homes and who did not wish to live in France full time, did not apply for a WA residence permit and must now go through the standard procedure to obtain a residence permit.

“However, many of them, who own property in France, have built their settlement in France on the rights of the European Union [citizens] (and the ease associated with them).

“Discouraged by the administrative burden of the new residency procedures, many UK nationals feel aggrieved by the 90-day rule.

“Engaged in associative life (in associations, in politics, in the economy, etc.), their presence [in France] contributes to the economic vitality of our country, particularly in Brittany, Périgord and Gers.

Senator Canévet then asked if it was “conceivable” to allow British visitors a simplified visit residence permit procedure, despite the end of the withdrawal agreement process.

“Would it also be possible to harmonize the ‘[visa]”free” periods authorized in France and the United Kingdom, bringing the indemnity to 180 days on French soil.

This would mean UK and French citizens would be entitled to equal visa-free time in both countries, as the UK already allows EU nationals to stay for 180 consecutive days.

However, EU nationals can only stay in the UK for 180 days a year, which is the same for UK citizens in the Schengen zone. The difference is that British visits to France, for example, must be split into two 90-day stays, each sitting in its own six-month period.

“The United Kingdom has chosen to give up its freedom of movement”

In response to Senator Canévet’s question, the Ministry for Europe and Foreign Affairs stated that: “the United Kingdom has chosen to abandon the idea of ​​free movement of persons, which allowed its citizens to live, study, work and travel freely in the Member States. ”

He added that the 90-day allowance offered to British visitors is outlined in a 2019 EU regulation which details the list of third countries whose citizens are entitled to visa-free travel to the bloc.

“In this context, it is not possible for France to unilaterally grant a derogation from the traffic rules adopted at European level to British citizens.

“For stays of three to six months, British nationals must apply for a temporary long stay visa VLS-T’visitor’.

Read more: Explanation: French long-stay visas equivalent to a residence permit

For longer stays, you must request a long-stay visa equivalent to a residence permit VLS-TS’visitor’, which lasts up to 12 months and can be followed by a request for residence permit.

“The current arrangement is unfair”

Steven Jolly, the founder of France Visa Free, a Facebook group calling on British visitors to France to be able to spend 180 consecutive days in the country, said The connection that the French government’s response was “disappointing”.

Read more: France lovers group calls for action on 90-day visitors rule

France Visa Free encourages its members to write to their local senators to raise awareness of the issue and request action on their part.

“France Visa Free followers continued to write to senators over the summer, and some got promising responses,” Mr. Jolly said.

Dordogne Senator Marie-Claude Varaillas told the group that: “Brexit has had the effect of ending the tax and social benefits granted to citizens of the Schengen area, particularly on the real estate issue.”

She also submitted a question to the government about it.

Savoyard Senator Martine Berthet said: “The presence of the British is an opportunity for our economy and for the entire tourism sector. In Savoie, we were able to measure it significantly last January when the entry restrictions linked to the health crisis prevented many British tourists from going to the ski areas.

“It therefore seems imperative to me to review the 90/180 Schengen rule. A possible solution would be to allow British nationals to stay in France for 180 consecutive days without a visa. as the French can currently do in the United Kingdom.

“Senators’ support is welcome,” Mr. Jolly said. “However, the response from the French government is disappointing. First, they repeat what is already known and seem to frame their response around Brexit. We know that the current situation is the result of Brexit and we know that we can obtain a visa for stays of up to six months.

“Unfortunately, the French government has failed to address the relevant points of our argument that the current arrangement is unfair and harmful to both the British visitor and France.

“Senators from Savoy and Brittany recognize that British visitors bring economic benefits and that any regulations that hinder frequent visits are harmful.

“We want the French government to engage seriously in finding a solution,” he added, suggesting that access to long-stay visas could be made easier.

“They could seek a bilateral agreement. They could consider a visa waiver or they could apply for an 180/360 rule. »

Mr Jolly also said: ‘The French government and for that matter the UK government have yet to realize that for the UK visitor, the current 90-day visa waiver is shared between 26 or more Schengen countries, whereas [citizens from each] Schengen zone countries can visit the UK without needing a visa for up to six months.

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