My parents have lived in France since 1991, and now are in their eighties. They did not get the chance to vote in yesterday’s referendum. I received an e mail from them this morning, at about half past five, asking me, in my expert opinion, whether they should try to obtain French citizenship.
They are by birth British citizens, and since 1992 have enjoyed EU Citizenship that came about with the ratification of the TEU in 1993, under Art. 8. They have been in receipt of their UK state pension, in addition to UK private pensions. As French residents they have, increasingly, drawn on the provisions of health and social care covered under the reciprocal rights agreements with EEA countries, and those that attach to their residency status in France.
So my mother says – I presume we will now be ‘foreigners’ – the inference being that henceforth they will no longer enjoy the benefits of either EU or French citizenship.
It is at this point that all of my self-assuredness as a scholar of the EU, as a supposed ‘expert’ on the matter, evaporates – to be replaced with a sense of shared bewilderment as to what I could offer as a response.
Shortly after, my partner, a Portuguese citizen and fellow Ph.D. student, was asked by her family a similar question – what happens to you now? She forms part of the statistics on EU migration which have been part of the of the leave campaign on the need to ‘take back control’.
I suppose that, in the short term, I can reassure my old folk that we can house swap, and that I and my partner can move to France, and they can move back to the UK. As such we kill two birds with one stone – the UK health and social services get to look after my ageing parents, and we get to enjoy life in the sun.
Simon Bransden is a Ph.D. Candidate at Canterbury Christ Church University.