It is now two years since the UK voted to leave the EU, a decision that left me upset, angry and afraid. The Sterling/Euro exchange rate dropped immediately, taking with it part of our income and it still remains at a lower point than pre-referendum rates. The ability to continue living our lives in the way we had been doing was uncertain and I had many questions that no one had the answers to. So, how have things changed?
Not a lot really. I still have questions that there are no answers to, meaning I am still upset and worried about our future. The round and round talks of Brexit in the news does nothing but make me feel worse, especially when you read about how EU citizens who have been living in the UK for longer than we have been in France are being treated by the UK government. How is this likely to encourage the French to be nice to us?
We are being encouraged to apply for Carte de Sejour (residency permits), despite as current EU citizens, it is not obligatory, and the only ones we are entitled to are the ones for EU citizens, which are therefore likely to become invalid once we cease to be EU citizens (I hope you are still with me!). However, they will help to prove our residency status when the time comes to declare. The process is not too difficult; make an appointment at our local prefecture in Niort, provide the necessary documents (a list of around ten different things going back at least five years) and turn up for the meeting. However, the phone line is only open for two hours, four afternoons a week and I’m at work for two of them. I have tried, numerous times, and so far nothing but the ‘line is busy, please call back later’ message. I know that appointments are currently being made for about six months' time, we have no idea where Adrian will be for work in six weeks' time, let alone six months. This means, if I am able to get an appointment, when the time comes, we may have to rearrange, or forgo a weeks' work and income in order to fulfil the obligation. Just more unnecessary worry and stress.
I have looked into getting Irish citizenship for myself, as both my maternal grandparents were born in Ireland, although this wouldn’t be of any help to Adrian and Ed or give any more certainty to Adrian’s work situation. However, compiling my file (birth, marriage and death certificates for my grandparents, birth and marriage for my Mum and me) is no less complicated than applying for my French Carte de Sejour. My grandparents were born in the early 1900’s, in rural villages in Ireland, where documentation wasn’t recorded in quite the way it is today and neither of them ever had copies of their birth certificates. I have found their extracts, but before buying the required copies (20€ per certificate) I noticed an anomality. We have a copy of their UK marriage certificate showing Nan’s date of birth as 6thSeptember 1916, the same year Grandad was born, when actually her birth is recorded in 1910. Grandad was never issued with a death certificate as he was only ever listed as missing in action during the Second World War. With the application fees to register my birth at 278€, I am reluctant to proceed with so many holes in my documentation. It seems no solution to our EU citizenship is a simple one.
I have also considered French nationality, something many of my friends have achieved in the last two years. However, again things have put me off, including the costs involved, the length of the process and the fact that my income may not be deemed adequate (after all no one wants a migrant who might be considered a burden on the state). Brexit is turning into the nightmare I feared in terms of paperwork, costs and stress.
Another thing to worry about is that Ed will soon embark on a three-year degree course in a French university, however at the moment nothing is certain about his status to study once he is no longer an EU citizen. French nationality is an option for him, but again the cost involved will be another burden for us.
Today in London thousands of people will be marching so that voices like ours can be heard. We can’t be there, but have friends, who are also in a similar position to us, who will be there and I’m grateful to them. By writing this post, I feel I’m doing something.
So, what next? I don’t know, except for more worry, more uncertainty, more paperwork and more costs.