On 24th of December 2020, after days of uncertainty, The European Commission and the United Kingdom found an agreement on the terms of its future cooperation with the European Union. As Europe let out a sigh of relief, we are focusing on the direct consequences of Brexit for immigration in France.
In terms of regulation, the change is sizeable: usually people living in United Kingdom who were willing to spend the weekend in Paris used to buy train ticket and nothing else. Starting from the 1st of January 2021, all British national who wish to travel to France will need a residence permit, which, in other words means paperwork. The French tourism and hotel sector was anxiously awaiting this fateful day. Of course the covi-19 pull the rug out from under.
Nevertheless, the National institute of Statistics and Economic Studies which published its report on January 1st, 2021 about the Brexit effect on British immigration, made an interesting observation: there has always been migration flow between the two countries, due to their geographic proximity and historical relations, and finally Brexit had little impact on it.
The impact is mostly located among the naturalization applications: from 2009 to 2015, few French naturalization applications were filed by British people (around 300 per year). But from 2017, the number increases exponentially: 1700 application were filed in 2017, almost double in 2018 with 3 300 application and up to 4100 applications in 2019.
If the three-quarters of application are filed by young working persons (15-65 years old), the rest consist of retired people. Should we add that among foreigners owning property in France, the British are the most numerous, which puts them at the top of the list of foreign owners. Consequently, owning dual nationality makes a real difference to allow owners to go back an force on the other side of the Channel.
But apart for this specific category, the balance of nationals from both countries living in the other remains negligible: in 2020, 140 000 immigrants who were born in the United Kingdom are living in France. On the contrary in 2019, 185 000 persons born in France were living in the UK. These numbers corroborate the report’s idea that despite the exit of the United Kingdom, the attractiveness of the two countries remains strong in both directions. We can bet that migratory exchanges might get tricky but will not cease in the future.