French lawmakers discuss pivotal immigration bill

Disappointment as French immigration bill is rejected.

UK and EU flag. Credit: A.Basler/

The EU’s ruling on UK visas is a thorn in the side for regular visitors to both France and Spain as a result of Brexit.

However, hopes were raised today as the French Constitutional Council met today on a divisive immigration bill.

Article 16

France’s highest constitutional authority met on Thursday, January 25, to issue a much-anticipated verdict on whether an immigration bill adopted under pressure from the far right is in line with its basic law.

The decision was keenly awaited by British citizens who have a second home in France as the outcome has a bearing on the controversial 90/180 day EU ruling.

Article 16 of the bill proposed ‘that a long-stay visa is automatically issued to British nationals who own a second home in France.’

The bill is one of the flagship reforms of President Emmanuel Macron’s second term but its text had to be hardened under pressure from the right which caused a revolt among lawmakers from the ruling party.

Among other things, the bill sought to introduce immigration quotas determined by parliament. Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin, who has championed the bill, admitted that certain ‘measures are manifestly and clearly contrary to the Constitution.’

The verdict

It is clear that some officials in France feel that the EU’s rules are detrimental to their economy, with hopes that exceptions to the law could be made.

Unfortunately, the bill was rejected, according to a post on the Facebook page – France Visa Free (180 Day Visa Waiver) Steven Jolly commented: ‘My understanding is that the automatic visa has been rejected not because of its meaning but because it had no relevance to the original bill.’

Online responses

‘Like you all I am disappointed. However, we know we have support in France. Today is a setback. We now have to think where next,’ Jolly added.

One despondent reply read: ‘Gutted. We may as well sell up and go somewhere we’re wanted.’

There was speculation that if France relaxed the rule there would be hope for Britons in the same situation in Spain. One person optimistically posted: ‘Hopefully Spain may take the lead and force their hand.’

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Written by

John Ensor

Originally from Doncaster, Yorkshire, John now lives in Galicia, Northern Spain with his wife Nina. He is passionate about news, music, cycling and animals.


    • Beiderbeck

      27 January 2024 • 14:32

      The decision was not surprising, but those unhappy about this situation must not blame Brexit. The single market was not in the prospectus, and much reassurance was offered to all those concerned. The customs union….well I never really heard anything about that. No this is solely the decision of Theresa May Conservative Government, and the Soveriegn fanaticism of the negotiators of the Withdrawal Agreement, and of course Parliament which voted the grotesque agreement into law. As for the argument about relaxing the 80/180 day rule for third countries, the only thing which does dIffer from other third countries is the fact that the UK is the first and only country to have left the EU. A wholly different position, but whether that carries any sway iS something else to speculate about

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