Expat fears grow on both sides of the Channel

Assurances offered by French president François Hollande have failed to allay concerns among British expatriates in France over their status when the UK leaves the European Union.

Three friends at the Eiffel Tower, Paris
Christophe Premat, the MP who represents French citizens living in the UK, has also revealed to The Local – the digital European news network – that he has been inundated with queries from worried French expats over their post-Brexit future.Last week, after meeting in Paris with Theresa May, Britain's new PM, Mr Hollande said British expats could continue to work and stay in France for as long as they liked.“The UK will remain a full member of the EU throughout the negotiations process, so nothing will change for our citizens. After the negotiations, the rules will be set,” the president told a press conference. “There’s no doubt that the French who reside in the UK and the Britons who live in France will continue to work there and spend as much time as they like there."Mr Hollande also said that the UK would have to decide either to "remain in the single market and assume the free movement that goes with it, or to have another status".
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But many Britons living in France have expressed doubts about the president's attempts to reassure them. Expats took to the Facebook support group page Remain in France Together, pointing out that no mention was made of pension rights and continued access to free healthcare.“He (Hollande) says nothing,” commented expat Dominic Rippon. “Even if we can stay to work, will we have healthcare subsidies cut? We'll have to wait a while for any detail; this is just politicking.”Alan Court added, “Feel very concerned that the UK may abandon our healthcare and lock our pensions. Very worrying times that could go on for years."Others pointed out that Mr Hollande, who is facing a presidential election next April, might not even be around when the Brexit negotiations begin in earnest next year.Meanwhile, Mr Premat has told The Local that many of the fears of UK expats in France are mirrored by those among French citizens living in the UK.“They all have questions regarding the consequences: what will happen to their child benefit or work benefits?” he said. “Students are also worried about university fees.”

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