EU Rights Clinic and RIFT challenge France’s failure to comply with the Withdrawal Agreement

In a complaint submitted today, the EU Rights Clinic and Remain in France Together (RIFT) have asked the European Commission to take urgent action to address the failure by the French authorities to comply with the provisions on citizens’ rights contained in the Withdrawal Agreement and safeguard the rights of UK nationals residing in France.

Based on the numerous complaints which RIFT has received to date – as well as information being collated in its on-going survey – it is clear that France is failing to fulfil its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. These problems remain unresolved by the French authorities, despite the warnings issued by RIFT in a previous report entitled “Sounding the Alarm Bell” and the complaint and petition submitted to the EU institutions by the EU Rights Clinic in 2018.

This state of affairs imperils the acquired rights of well over 10,000 UK nationals, who are still awaiting a decision on their application as well as those whose applications have been “classé sans suite”, who are at risk becoming undocumented particularly following closure of the online French government application portal. As a matter of French law, it will be compulsory for all UK nationals living in France to hold a residence card from 1 January 2022.

The failures by France to comply with its obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement include excessive delays in processing applications for residence documents (see here and here), the imposition of excessive administrative burdens and failures to take a decision, assist applicants or issue correct documentation. UK nationals who residence documentation has been lost or stolen report being unable to obtain replacements. UK nationals have also been facing problems at the French border (see here and here).

There are also notable problems caused by the French government policy not to issue residence documents to children. UK nationals are also reporting difficulties in exercising their right to family reunification since the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020.

Such failures also impact British citizens’ entitlement to access other public services such as the local health authority (CPAM) and child benefit offices (CAF), as well as their ability to access housing. UK nationals are likely to have

The EU Rights Clinic and RIFT have demanded that the European Commission take robust enforcement action against France to ensure it complies fully with its binding legal obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement. A petition will also be lodged in parallel before the European Parliament.

Read the Executive Summary of the complaint here

The EU Rights Clinic is a collaboration between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels. The EU Rights Clinic continues to investigate cases of breaches of free movement rights in EU Member States. Remain in France Together (RIFT) represent the interests of the British people living in France and try to defend their citizens’ rights.