Tuesday, 21 November 2023, 13:38
There has been positive news for British second-home owners and part-year residents in France and Spain this month. Following the news that the French Senate has approved an amendment which, if passed by the Assemblée National in December, would allow Britons who own properties in France to spend more than 90 days in every 180 in the country, in Spain, Hector Gómez, then acting minister for industry, trade and tourism held a meeting with Jennifer Anderson, director of consular affairs and the UK Foreign Office last week, during which Gómez said the two “discussed issues of interest regarding the stays of British tourists in Spain and collaboration projects for future seasons”.
Since post Brexit rules came into force on 31st December 2020 British tourists to EU member states may only spend a maximum period of 90 days in every 180, which includes those who own properties in EU countries.
Andrew Hesselden, director and founder of the '180 Days in Spain' campaign, which seeks to help British people in Spain in a similar position to those in France, told SUR in English that he was "delighted to see French senators recognise injustice of the situation that British part-year residents have found themselves in since Brexit” and added that 180 Days in Spain’s 7,000 members "remain hopeful of similar recognition in Spain for everyone affected".
The French Senate last week approved a bill amendment granting automatic long-stay visa rights to British second-home owners in France "without the need for any formalities". The amendment, proposed by Senator Martine Berthet of Savoie reads (translated from French): “Following Brexit on 31 January 2020, British citizens may no longer stay in the European Union for more than 90 days in any 180-day period. Those wishing to spend a long period in France must now apply for a residence permit or a visa, a lengthy procedure complicated by a number of technical problems (malfunctioning of the TLS contact website, few appointments available, etc.). While these difficulties are rooted in the United Kingdom's sovereign decision to leave the European Union, the fact remains that many of their nationals play an active part in the dynamism of the local economy in our territories and are subject to property tax in the same way as all residents. In view of the unique links between our two countries and the importance of this public to the French economy, this amendment seeks, by way of derogation, to ease the conditions of entry into France for British citizens who own second homes in France."
The change aims to address challenges faced by British part year residents post-Brexit, who are currently limited to spending a maximum of 90 days in the entire Schengen area. The current limitation means they cannot visit other EU countries if they've already spent 90 days living in their own home in France.
Berthet told the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper, “The Britons I have spoken to say that the current system is long-winded, difficult and full of pitfalls.”
Hesselden said that the amendment, “recognises the unique situation of British part year residents, many of whom did not vote for Brexit and who find themselves in this situation through no fault of their own.” It forms part of France's immigration bill which will be debated in the Assemblée Nationale in December this year.
The amendment forms part of France's immigration bill which is to be debated in the French National Assembly. According to Hesselden, if approved, it would mean that second home owners in France would get the automatic right to a visa to stay in France and would be "free once again to take holidays or business trips to Spain or other Schengen countries because they would still have the full complement of 90-in-180 days under the Schengen Visa Waiver available to use".
Hesselden went on to say, "There's still more work to be done to ensure that everyone is protected fully. We hope that UK, Spanish and French politicians will engage with us now to understand the issues fully and work with us to find the best possible solutions. Many of our members felt integrated in their local communities in France and Spain before Brexit, but now feel like they don't belong anymore, which I think is sad," said Hesselden.
The campaign is also calling for greater mobility rights for all British visitors to Spain to match what Spanish people get in the UK today: “We should remember the UK still welcomes all French and Spanish citizens as visitors for up to six months per visit and that isn't reduced at all by days spent in other countries. Brexit barely changed access for European visitors to the UK, although it did, sadly, impact their ability to settle or work without a visa, and it would be nice if even that can change in time."
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