European Green Card proposed as solution

A proposal for a “European green card” that would prove and maintain EU free movement rights for Britons, and for EU citizens living in the UK, after Brexit is gathering momentum.

The idea, put forward by the pro-EU group New Europeans, has support from a growing number of MEPs and the public (57,000 have signed a petition at

The New Europeans have now been invited to a hearing with the constitutional affairs committee of the European Parliament.

The group, which won a presidential medal from President Macron, hopes MEPs will put the card idea forward as an EU law.

It would mean Britons who have obtained an EU right of permanent residency due to living abroad in the EU for at least five years before Brexit would be issued with a card guaranteeing continuing rights, including free movement across the EU.

The card could also be presented at the French border on return from a trip outside the EU (such as to the UK) to show that the holder does not need an Etias (online application for per- mission for non-EU visitors to the EU, due to start in 2021).

In daily life, the card could confirm the holder should be treated for practical purposes as if they were an EU citizen.

For EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit, it would be proof of their ‘settled status’. In the UK there will not be cards but a system of proof online.

New Europeans founder Roger Casale said the card would be for those with EU permanent cartes de séjour, or rights under a Brexit deal if there is one, or for those granted similar residency status after a no-deal Brexit if individual EU states make laws for this (as in France, see right).

He said:

“The green card will be needed whether there’s a deal or not. It would not be a way to secure residency rights but, once secured, it would ring-fence your other rights as an EU citizen, in particular free movement.

This is especially important for British people who need to travel freely around the EU for work. Or if they decide to up sticks and move to Spain, it would allow them to do that without a visa or carte de séjour.

Beyond that, there are many administrative issues you don’t need to worry about if you have EU rights. And how will the

BRITONS in France will have a year to obtain new residency cards in the event of a no-deal Brexit, France has announced.

Making use of special powers conferred by a no-deal Brexit law, the government is to make five ordonnances (laws passed by order to speed up the pro- cess) in coming weeks. One will be on Britons’ residency rights.

Another aims to “ensure the continuity of certain financial activities, in particular relating to insurance, after the loss of the UK’s financial passport”.

Connexion asked the prime minister’s office if this includes ensuring Britons can continue to receive private pension and insurance payments in France from UK-based providers. It said this will be clarified later.

Details remain to be clarified on the residency plan too but an outline says that – dependent on the same being granted for French people in the UK – Britons would retain the same rights as now for one year.

During that year they would have to obtain a residency per- mit to stay. The UK says, in a no-deal, EU citizens will have until the end of 2020 to apply for its ‘settled status’ scheme.

This confers most of the same rights as under the negotiated EU/UK deal, and during that time they retain broadly the same rights as now.

Britons would have the right to apply either for a carte de résident, if they have lived in France for more than five years at the time of Brexit, or other- wise one of the existing cartes de séjour for non-EU citizens who have lived in France for less than five years (but with simplified conditions compared to the usual requirements).

Brexit, allow them to stay in regulated professions such as notaires, avocats and account- ants, and remain as fonction- naires (civil servants, including teachers and nurses etc).

Another order relates to establishing strict border con- trols, including spending €50million making facilities for lorry checks, and recruiting and training 580 people to do customs and veterinary checks.

The ministry source said there are plans for specific offices for card applications in depart- ments where lots of Britons live and prefects have been invited to do this. There should also be information meetings at prefectures and sous-prefectures to complement national commu- nication about Brexit rules.

The official online source for information is

Until then, it is still worth putting in applications for EU citizen’s cards, the source said.

In the case of no-deal, pending applications would become invalid “for IT reasons”.

People would have to put in new ones but would not have to submit new supporting documents and could ask officials to use ones from the other dossier.

An official from the prime minister’s office said:

“Our preferred option is still the deal negotiated, which is precise about citizens’ rights and would leave us two transitional years to prepare. But if there’s no deal, the new laws would apply, so Britons living in France have a legal residency status.”

He added:

“The president and Europe minister have said several times that the deal was the best one on the table, so it is hard to imagine it will be renegotiated.”

The guarantees would only apply if there is reciprocity for the French in the UK – “but it’s not in our interest to penalise British people who’ve been living in France a long time”.

He added that time is running out and they are preparing for all eventualities.

“Extra personnel are being recruited, laws are being put in place and speeded up, as it’s more likely there will be no deal.

“The prime minister is asking ministries to get ready – the Interior Ministry for paperwork or Agriculture for food regula- tions – and prefectures in con- cerned regions so as to respond to demand. We’re trying to get everyone to gear up.”

Ordonnances must be ratified by parliament or they lapse.

In view of a possible no-deal, it remains important to apply for a carte de séjour or at least prepare documents for one.

It is advisable to change a UK driving licence for a French one. In a no-deal, there will be extra paperwork to do this and non-EU drivers must swap to a French licence within a year. Delays are already reported.

If you plan to travel with pets, speak to your vet. The EU pet passport will be invalid in the case of no-deal so extra papers would be needed.

French distinguish between a Briton with rights under a deal, or a unilateral guarantee after a no-deal, and someone who has come later? A green card is how.”

As well as MEPs, former Finnish prime minister Alex Stubb and British “EU Super- girl” campaigner Madeleina Kay support the idea.

Mr Casale said:

“The MEPs passed a motion in 2017 saying they would not sign off the with- drawal agreement until a way had been found to give back freedom of movement to Britons in the EU. This will do that.

It is critical people get behind it; it will help to relieve anxiety because now so many people have lost hope.”

He said the card is “the only show in town” as the agreed deal did not allow for free movement and a previous ‘associate EU cit- izenship’ idea did not take off.

“We say it should ring-fence all the current status and rights – even voting in local and EU elections – and it should also be given to those waiting to acquire rights after five years. In practice what we get will depend on what the commission decides and the EU Council agrees to.”

British Labour MEP Julie Ward said:

“Britons face having citizenship rights taken away and the card would be a step in the right direction.

But you don’t get things done unless you are determined, and citizen pressure – such as signing New Europeans’ petition – can make a massive difference.


Reproduced by kind permission

The Connexion




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