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Manish’s Zodiac Predictions for March and the rest of the year

Pisces ( 19 February – 20 March ) – You feel quite loving and warm, with a desire to give and receive affection and appreciation. Also, your desire for beauty stimulates your creativity. In profession there would be tightrope walk. Projects rooted in reality and watered by your attention can flourish, but ideas and plans tossed in the air without thought and commitment will soon be gone with the wind. Through groups or friends, you might seek a sense of belonging and comfort, and you’re likely to find it! Your worldly or public status may change for the better. Favorable Dates : Mar 3, 6, 12, 15, 21, 24 Favorable Colors : Red & Purple

Aries ( 21 March – 19 April ) –  You would be communicating with more authority, or honing your knowledge in a particular trade or area of knowledge/expertise. Business or professional  income is likely to be strong.  This will also be a very active month sentimentally speaking, which will bring events, but also a certain benevolence, grace and sentimental liveliness. It’s a period ripe with opportunity for attracting others, for turning on the charm, and for receiving positive feedback from partners or love interests. Love seems to come to you without the need for your pursuing it.  Favorable Dates : Mar 4, 8, 13, 17, 22, 26 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue

Taurus ( 20 April – 20 May ) – You are entertaining dreams of where you’d like to go with your life. You are likely to be feeling pleasantly effective, competent, and ambitious.. You are determined, thinking of the long term, and more tuned in to relevant, practical details. There can be a cause that you work towards enthusiastically, possibly related to family. You can be more ardent in your pursuit of a person or a relationship, or someone could be ardently pursuing you. You are more concerned with personal happiness, ideals, and long-term goals in the second half. Favorable Dates : Mar 1, 4, 10, 13, 19, 22 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Gemini ( 21 May – 20 June ) – You are more productive, with a responsible and sometimes even somber outlook during this period. Although you have a desire to make contacts, you are now rather preoccupied with learning or producing, and you may view idle chit-chat as a waste of time. You could feel an unusual pressure to structure your time and effort, and to cut out communication that seems unnecessary. The period will be especially relevant to collaboration, associations, contracts, friendship or other social interactions, including to rivalry, competitions or court trials. Favorable Dates : Mar 3, 8, 12, 17, 21, 26 Favorable Colors : Blue & Grey

Cancer( 21 June – 22 July ) – There is an emphasis on your sector of work, health, and daily routine in this month, and this can point to a romantic liaison through any of these areas of life. Love may be easier to attract through these things, or there can be a surprising event and feelings stimulated now. Your creative spirit shall help you to tide over any unforeseen financial mishaps this month. The end of the month shall bring in some lucrative ideas that would improve your financial standing. Friendship is likely to bring some joy into your life. Favorable Dates : Mar 2, 8, 11, 17, 20, 26 Favorable Colors : Red & Yellow

Leo  ( 23 July – 22 August ) – This is not a time to push yourself or to be involved in activities that require intense competition or a great expenditure of energy. Group activities and associations could be avenues for fulfilling your own goals. You may take special joy in sharing a common cause or ideals with others.  A pleasant, affectionate, relaxed, or courteous attitude eases your interactions now, and may open doors or help lighten troubled situations that you’ve been working with lately You’re inclined to use charm, gentle coaxing, and loving persuasion rather than more direct, forceful methods to get what you want. Favorable Dates : Mar 2, 3, 11, 12, 20, 30 Favorable Colors : Red & Blue

Virgo ( 23 August – 22 September ) – Your desire for pleasure, ease, and affection is brought to the fore and may interfere with work or complicated situations in which you need to be acting assertively and on your own behalf. Your mood and attitude is conciliatory, and your need for love and approval heightened. You are willing to make concessions in order to maintain harmony in your environment. You can attract what you want and need, rather than pursue it forcefully or do it all yourself. You could struggle somewhat with your own expectations in partnerships. Favorable Dates : Mar 1, 5, 10, 14, 19, 23 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Grey

Libra ( 23 September – 22 October ) – This month you would draw your attention to information, studies, intellectual preoccupations, but also to communication, trips, changes, transactions and skill. This month is terrific for creative thinking and imagining more options in your lives, yet you can also scatter your energy if you pursue too many possibilities at once. Being selective helps to capture this intellectual  inspiration without dissipating yourselves in too much thought. You will gain a greater depth of understanding, having focused on information and communication that you really can use to feel more effective in the world. Favorable Dates : Mar 7, 8, 16, 17, 25, 26 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

Scorpio ( 23 October – 21 November ) – There can be a real learning experience with someone with whom you can bounce ideas off and come to a better understanding of how you define yourself. This month willbring plenty of activity in your romance sector, stimulating all kinds of opportunities to have fun. You may have better chances finding love while travelling, doing adventurous things, or furthering your education A strong need for harmony, affection, approval or belongingness colors your attitude and decisions now. Overall this is likely to bring ease and engender positive feelings in your interactions and personal relationships. Favorable Dates : Mar 3, 4, 12, 13, 21, 22 Favorable Colors : Grey & Blue

Sagittarius ( 22 November -21 December ) – You can achieve deep satisfaction in areas where you have applied methodical efforts and persistence over the past few months This is a special time for setting long-term strategies, since faith and action combine with vision and reason to lay down a solid foundation for reaching inspirational goals. This growing perspective on how you might improve your life is likely to produce more ideas than even you can handle. In love, you’re inclined to use charm, gentle coaxing, and loving persuasion rather than more direct, forceful methods to get what you want. Favorable Dates : Mar 7, 9, 16, 18, 25, 26 Favorable Colors : Red & Purple

Capricorn ( 22 December – 19 January ) – You’re planting conceptual seeds for career advancement or fulfilling relationships, and if you nourish them with care, they should take hold and show real growth. The common idea is about focus, responsibility, maturity and commitment. That doesn’t rule out passion, which awaits somewhere deep down, although you’re trying to control it. Relationships begun now are: sensual, possessive, comfortable, potentially long-lasting, stable, dependable, and loyal. After 22nd, a more spiritual approach to your life is in order, and this calls upon you to detach yourself from some of your more worldly and materialistic goals. Favorable Dates : Mar 6, 7, 15, 16, 24, 25 Favorable Colors : Yellow & Blue

Aquarius ( 20 January – 18 February ) – This month is rich with opportunities for personal and professional growth for you. It broadens your self-understanding and expands your vision of future possibilities. You can attract what you want and need, rather than pursue it forcefully or do it all yourself. Past loves may reappear, possibly in the flesh, or you could be a little hung up on them emotionally. A current romantic interest may be difficult to read. You would be expressing your sociability, talkativeness, friendliness, by listening and communicating in a pleasant, unaffected manner, emphasizing your intellect and light hearted nature. Favorable Dates : Mar 2, 4, 11, 13, 20, 22 Favorable Colors : Red & White

Your vote on May 7th for London Mayor

Rory Stewart’s bid to become the next Mayor of London has taken an unusual turn. The former Tory minister has offered to stay on Londoners’ sofas in a bid to learn more about the city.

The campaign #ComeKipWithMe will sees Stewart lug his travel bag from flat to flat, bedding down on second-hand settees, crumb-ridden floors and shoebox-sized spare bedrooms across the capital to listen to the concerns of the city.

‘Fixing London’s issues – whether on crime, housing, or our air quality – will not come from issuing press releases or edicts from a distant office building,’ Stewart said. ‘It comes from getting out into communities across the capital, staying with people – listening to their concerns, as well as their ideas for the best solutions.’

His campaign has already taken him to Lorraine Tabone’s abode. Tabone, who runs the charity Lola’s Homeless in east London, hosted Stewart in her one-bedroom Canning Town flat.

The pair spent the night on a tour of Newham and Canning Town to speak to the local homeless community and then went to a Chinese restaurant where, apparently, Stewart ate only boiled rice and paid for the meal. He then bedded down for the night on Tabone’s floor and woke her up at 7am with a coffee in hand ready to talk about issues such as homelessness and knife crime. He was the ‘perfect guest’, Tabone told PA.

Stewart has said that, if elected, he plans to continue to ‘kip’ in Londoners’ homes. We know rental prices are through the roof but surely there must be a better option.

On May 7th Londoners on the Electoral Roll will have the opportunity to vote for their new Mayor – There will be two names that can be ticked, and one marked as their preference. Candidates represent various political parties. Stewart is independent, so has no lords and masters pulling his strings. He’ll be working for Londoners.  It will be interesting to see if there is a flip away from Sadiq Khan’s Labour ticket or there is a marked reticence to vote for Shaun Bailey as an anti-Boris stand, Siobhan Benita and an anti-main party vote, or an outsider for the Greens, the Woman’s Equality Party, Pimlico Plumbers or others . . . like Rory Stewart, the best solution for all.

 

Top Five Cool Things Happening at Les Pastras in 2020

Bonjour, friends! We have a big year ahead of us and are excited to bring you all the news from our little farm in Provence. 

  1. Feature story. We were recently featured in an article by the incredible Bridgett Leslie on Vocal Media. If you want to read all about how we first met and began our adventures together here in the South of France,click here.
  2. Going green. We’ve been really conscious about the impact that shipping truffles next-day all over the world has on the environment. We’ve recently worked a deal with DHL to ensure that each package we send is carbon neutral, no matter its destination, at no extra cost to our clients!
  3. Pétanque court. It’s sometimes difficult to find a good place for guests to play. Often, locals are using the best spots for tournaments or weekly markets get in the way. And even then, we sometimes have to cancel the activity when weather is bad. With all this land at our disposal, we’ve decided to construct a pétanque course with a roof to provide shade and protect from the rain where we can host guests no matter what the weather.
  4. Short stories. Ryan Jacobs’s book, Truffle Underground, was amazing, but it left us wanting more. At the same time, we find we never have enough time during our tours to tell all the stories about the fascinating and dramatic world of Provence truffle hunting. So we’re working on a book of short stories that guests will have the option to purchase at the end of their time here if we’ve left them wanting more and they’re looking for something to read on the plane ride home.
  5. Our new puppy! Caramel is a 5 month old dachshund-terrier mix and is learning the truffle hunting trade from Jean-Marc and the other two dogs. He began his first hunts at Les Pastras in December 2019 and we’re looking forward to big things from his small nose. He’s already a guest favorite and loves to have his picture taken. He even has his own Instagram account! Check it out here: @carameltrufflepup

Johann & Lisa Pepin   www.lespastras.com

For the Few Who Own the Finest – seen as the French alternative to a Rolls Royce.

 

 

Facel was a French manufacturer of automobiles from 1954 to 1964. The company was named after the original metal stamping company FACEL, and the company’s first model, the Vega, named after the star, was introduced at the 1954 Paris Auto Show.

The cars were advertised with the slogan For the Few Who Own the Finest.

FACEL (Forges et Ateliers de Construction d’Eure-et-Loir, in English: forge and construction workshop of the department of Eure-et-Loir) The marque was created in 1954 by Jean Daninos. Facel was initially a metal-stamping company but decided to expand into car manufacturing in the early 1950s. The company entered the automobile business as a supplier of special bodies for Panhard, Delahaye and Simca. Facel also made the pillarless coupé bodywork for the Simca/Ford Comète. Around 45,000 Comètes were built, this lucrative contract enabled Facel to manufacture a car under the Facel marque.

The Vega production cars (Facel FV, later and more famously the HK500) appeared in 1954 using Chrysler V8 engines, at first a 4.5-litre (275 cu in) DeSoto Hemi engine; the overall engineering was straightforward, with a tubular chassis, double wishbone suspension at the front and a live axle at the back, as in standard American practice. They were also as heavy as American cars, at about 1,800 kg (3,968 lb). Performance was brisk, with an approx 190 km/h (118 mph) top speed and 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in just under ten seconds.

Most cars were 2-door hardtops with no centre pillar, but a few convertibles were built. Fully 77% of production was exported, due to the punitive Tax horsepower system in France. The 1956 model was improved with a bigger 5.4-litre (330 cu in) Chrysler engine and updated transmission and other mechanicals. In the same year production began of a four-door model, the Excellence, with rear-hinged doors (suicide doors) at the back and no centre pillar. The pillarless design unfortunately made it less rigid and the handling was thus poorer than that of the two-door cars, and surviving examples are rare. 1959 models had even bigger engines, a 5.8-litre (354 cu in) and later a 6.28-litre (383 cu in) Chrysler V8, and were quite a bit faster despite their extra weight. The final evolution of the V8 models came in 1962 with the Facel II, which was lighter, with sleeker, more modern lines, substantially faster still, and famously elegant. In 1960,

Facel entered the sports car market with the Facellia, a small car similar in size to the then popular Mercedes 190SL. Facellias were advertised in three body styles: cabriolet, 2+2 coupé and 4-seat coupé — all with the same mechanicals and a 2,450 mm (96.5 in) wheelbase. Styling was similar to the Facel HK500, but with rather elegant (though fingernail-breaking) flush door handles. Following Facel Vega’s demise several of M Daninos’s styling cues were “borrowed” by Mercedes-Benz. Prices were roughly US$4,000 for the Facellia, US$5,500 for the Facel III and US$6,000 for the Facel 6.[3] With the idea of creating a mass-produced all-French sports car competing with the Alfa Romeos, Facel moved away from American engines. The Facellia had a 4-cylinder 1.6 L DOHC engine built in France by Paul Cavallier of the Pont-à-Mousson company (which already provided manual gear boxes for the company’s larger models).

The engine had only two bearings supporting each camshaft, using special steels, as opposed to the usual four or five. Despite the metallurgical experience of Pont-à-Mousson, this resulted in excessive flex, timing problems and frequent failures. The engine was pronounced a disaster and the Facellia with it. Company president, Jean Daninos having been obliged to resign in August 1961 in response to the company’s financial problems, the new boss, a former oil company executive called André Belin, gave strict instructions to the after-sales department to respond to customer complaints about broken Facellia engines by replacing the units free of charge without creating “difficulties”. The strategy was intended to restore confidence among the company’s customer base.

It would certainly have created a large hole in the income statement under the “warranty costs” heading, but it may have been too late for customer confidence. The troublesome engine was replaced with a Volvo B18 powerplant in the Facel III, but the damage was done. Production was stopped in 1963 and despite the vision of it being a “volume” car only 1100 were produced, which is Facel’s highest production number.

Facel lost money on every car they built, the luxury car side of the company being supported entirely by the other work done by Facel Metallon, The small Facellia met with little success and the losses from this, due to strong competition at the luxury end of the market, killed off the company. Facel left the car market completely in 1964. What was, according to some, the best small Facel, the Facel 6, which used an Austin Healey 2.8-litre engine, came too late to save the company, fewer than 30 having been produced when the French government scuttled the endeavour.

Prominent owners of Facel Vegas (mainly of Facel IIs) included Pablo Picasso, Ava Gardner, Christian Dior, Joan Collins, Ringo Starr, Stirling Moss, Tony Curtis, Dean Martin, Fred Astaire, Danny Kaye, François Truffaut, The Shah of Persia, Frank Sinatra, and French Embassies around the world. Race-car driver Stirling Moss would drive his HK500 from event to event rather than fly.

The French writer Albert Camus died in a Facel Vega FV3B driven by his publisher, Michel Gallimard. At the time of his death, Camus had planned to travel by train, with his wife and children, but at the last minute accepted his publisher’s proposal to travel with him

In the 1989 film “Dealers”, Paul McGann, as Daniel Pascoe, drove a Facel ll. A Facel Vega HK500 appears in computer-animated form in the film Ratatouille (Pixar, 2007), driven by Chef Skinner. It sadly got totalled when Emille and Remy’s dad pushed a gargoyle onto it.

Cycle to a Chateaux

 

La Loire à Vélo (The Loire by Bike) cycle trail is one of the most attractive ways to discover the treasures of the Loire Valley. From one château to the next, follow the course of the Loire as you pedal along 900 km of perfectly signposted and well-surfaced paths and roads to its end in the estuary. Along the way, take in the magical scenery of peaceful countryside, vineyards that stretch as far as the eye can see, the sparkling waters of the Loire itself and even troglodyte dwellings.

A cycle route that follows the Loire down towards its mouth
900 km of countryside trails, alternating cycle paths and quiet roads traveling from castle to castle along the Loire Valley… This is what awaits you along La Loire à Vélo route. The only trail of its kind, it attracts about a million riders every year from all over the world.

Perfectly laid out and signposted in both directions, the route connects Cuffy in the Cher département to Saint-Brévin-les-Pins, where the Loire flows into the Atlantic Ocean.

With unspoilt river banks, Loire Châteaux and vineyards flanking the hills, La Loire à Vélo offers unique countryside scenery, some of which were listed in 2000 as a “living cultural landscape” by UNESCO World Heritage.

La Loire à Vélo: from Loire Châteaux to villages full of character

From one end of the Loire Valley to the other, La Loire à Vélo runs through iconic towns of the Loire Valley including Orléans, Blois, Amboise, Tours,  Saumur, Angers and Nantes… all of them are must-see destinations! As you travel along the river and its tributaries (Cher, Indre, Vienna, Maine, Thouet etc.) your journey will be punctuated by pretty villages, troglodytic quarries, flowery gardens and the prestigious Châteaux of the Loire.

No other cycle route offers such a high concentration of historical monuments. From the Château of Sully-sur-Loire to that of the Dukes of Brittany in Nantes, there are 22 Great Sites of the Loire Valley dotted along the way. To name just a few: the famous châteaux of Chambord, Amboise, Chenonceau, Azay-le-Rideau, Saumur and the Abbey of Fontevraud.

Finally, you should remember that La Loire à Vélo crosses many other major cycling routes such as the Vélodyssée (Bikeodyssey), Châteaux à Vélo (Châteaux by bicycle), l’Indre à vélo (the Indre by bicycle), La Vélocéan, La Vélo Francette and Saint-Jacques à Vélo (St James’s Way by bicycle).

Moreover, La Loire à Vélo is part of the Eurovélo 6, the great European cycle route that covers more than 3,600 km and connects the Atlantic Ocean to the Black Sea.

Accueil Vélo: help and hospitality at hand
Along the way you will find more than 600 establishments (accommodation, tourist offices, rental and bicycle repairers, tourist sites) that have been accredited with the French Accueil Vélo label, all ready to welcome and advise you.

How France is setting its sights on the international whisky market

Reprinted from The Local

France is known for producing some of the best wines in the world. Now they have set their sights on nipping into the international whisky market.

“Not many of our clients are surprised that French whisky exists,” says Matthieu Acar, a whisky salesman and French whisky specialist at La Maison du Whisky in Paris. “But a lot of them are surprised at how many French whiskies there are.” When it comes to quantity and quality, the Scots – purveyors for centuries of “uisge-beatha” (or water of life in Gaelic) – will take some beating.

According to the Scotch Whisky Association (SWA), more than 1.28 billion bottles of scotch are shipped from Scotland every year. Laid end to end, those bottles would stretch about 350,000 kilometres – 90 percent of the distance to the Moon. In comparison, France’s whisky production would barely break through the atmosphere. But with 42 distilleries creating at least one whisky, according to the French Whisky Federation (FWF), the French seem determined to grab a share of what has become a lucrative market.

The Scotch whisky industry adds £5.5 billion (€6.5 billion) to the UK economy in 2018, according to SWA estimates. Although the French are far behind, Nicolas Le Brun – official programmer for the annual Whisky Live salon in Paris – believes the future is bright. “French whisky is still at a relatively young age in its history. It appeared at the beginning of the 1980s, so this is really the beginning,” Le Brun told AFP. “But that said, with our expertise (in distilling), our culture of consumption, and again the culture of producing drinks like Armagnac, Cognac and Calvados, there’s a good chance that in the years to come French whisky will find its niche.”

Mixing the grain

There may be an abundance of Scotch on the international market, but the French have some aces up their sleeves. The French are Europe’s top cereal producers and the number one consumers of whisky in Europe. And in an era where consumer choice is increasingly determined by gluten-free and organic options, young producers are taking heed. “For us, it’s all about taking the raw materials – cereals which we grow organically on our land – and transforming them into completely organic whiskies,” says Frederic Revol, co-founder of the Domaine des Hautes Glaces distillery high in the French Alps. “Everything is organic, everything grows within 15km of the distillery, so we use barley, the classic Scotch whisky grain, as raw material but we also use different grains like rye or spelt.”

Alexandre Sirech, co-founder of the Bellevoye brand, says his passion for whisky came from a decisive experience of working in a Speyside distillery. “I realised that good Scotch whisky is made of cereals and that the king of cereals in Europe is France,” he told AFP . “So it was while working in Scotland and learning how to make whisky that I said to myself: ‘One day it would be nice if we could make French whisky with good French grain, and our malted barley in particular.'” His experience paid off: in 2018 Bellevoye’s “Black Label” beat rivals from Scotland and Japan in a blind tasting of “peated whisky” at the Brussels Whisky Festival.

Different aromas 

Armorik, which pioneered French whisky production by creating a blend in 1987, is now a leader in the domestic whisky market. Making whisky “traditionally, with a Breton touch”, Armorik  matures its whiskies in French wine casks. Another 12 distilleries are expected to open in France in 2020, according to the FWF. Armorik CEO David Roussier believes the French – when it comes to taste and quality – can give the Scots a run for their money. “I think we’re totally competing (on the international market). In blind tasting it’s difficult to say who would be the best, a Scotch, American, Irish or French,” he told AFP. “The French bring something else, a very different way of working, a very different way of ageing. “Obviously the history of French wine making means we also have a lot of barrels to age our whiskies in.” That helps to bring out different aromas, he added.

 

France to Morocco

 

2 hours to Morocco from £17 – and that’s a return price (last month’s prices)

Direct flights from Paris, Nantes, Lyon, Bordeaux, Marseille to Casablanca. Royal Air Maroc is a leading airline in Africa since its creation in 1957. With a young fleet of 59 aircraft, the company serves more than 105 destinations around the world and transports nearly 8 million passengers yearly. Capitalizing on Morocco’s geographic location as a hub between Europe and Africa, Royal Air Maroc is positioning itself as an essential airline actor at an international level. The company provides regular connections between the main airports in Morocco and more than 80 airports around the world. In 2019, it operated more than 2,500 regular flights per week.

Thanks to Royal Air Maroc, Casablanca has become an essential platform for air connections between Africa and the rest of the world. The company transports nearly 2 million passengers on African lines, 60% of which are transiting. In order to consolidate its positioning in this high-potential market, Royal Air Maroc is expanding its network and developing a range of services adapted to the needs of African customers: reorganization of the flight program, renovation of transit infrastructures, recruitment of multicultural teams (more than 15% of the cabin crew come from West African countries).

The company also pursued its efforts to join the Oneworld alliance. She has been invited to become a member of this prestigious alliance, which she will officially join during 2020.

Royal Air Maroc has been ranked four stars in the Skytrax ranking since 2015. In February 2020: British Airways and Royal Air Maroc announced a new codeshare agreement which open up new routes across Morocco including Casablanca and Agadir.  It will also give customers more flight flexibility between London Heathrow and Marrakesh.

Customers are now able to book prior to the Moroccan airline’s joining of the oneworld alliance on 1 April 2020.

British Airways’ first African codeshare will give its customers more choice of services between Heathrow and Marrakesh. As well as daily access to Royal Air Maroc’s hub in Casablanca, which is not currently served directly by British Airways.

Casablanca also serves as the perfect hub for connections onto other Royal Air Maroc destinations, including Abidjan in the Ivory Coast, Freetown in Sierra Leone and Agadir in Morocco.

 

 

Why ‘going green’ may land you in hot water in France

Reprinted from the Local

Putting forward a plan for a greener world doesn’t seem like something many people would want to argue with, but when the city of Paris did just that – it ruffled some feathers.

But this argument is nothing to do with the environmental merits of scooters v bikes or whether Paris cafés can really continue providing heated terraces for smokers. Instead the “bons plans pour un monde plus green” raised the hackles of the Academie Française, the guardians of the French language.

The urban gardening project put forward by Paris’ city hall was just the latest in a long line of French environmental initiatives to co-opt the English word ‘green’ and the Academie, which is charged with protecting the French language from external threats such as the creeping influence of English, is not happy with the use of the word green when French has a perfectly viable alternative – vert.

The Academie lamented (in French of course) “The proverb says that the grass is always greener in the neighbour’s field. Why would we believe that it would be of even better quality if it were ‘green’? Will the world be less beautiful if it is ‘green’ rather than vert? “Is the best way to promote diversity – of species or languages – really to replace French words with others from an already dominant language?”

So there you have it – green is out, vert is in.

If you want a few alternatives to describe your ecological views or efforts you could use l’écologie or its shortened form les écolos to describe people who are green or environmentally aware.

The French Green Party – currently battling it out to take control of Paris in the upcoming mayoral elections – is called Europe Ecologie Les Verts (EELV) and commonly known simply as les verts.

 

Brexit has begun: What UK expatriates need to know about the Withdrawal Agreement

By Rob Kay, Senior Partner, Blevins Franks

While the transition period offers some certainty for 2020, the clock is ticking for UK expatriates to lock in protections for residence, healthcare and pensions.

Now that the UK has officially left the EU, the transition period is in motion and set to run until 31 December 2020. But has anything actually changed for UK nationals living in the EU and do we have any certainty for 2021?

What changed on 31 January?

Very little; the UK is still being treated as an EU member state, continuing to be bound by EU rules and paying into the EU budget, although all UK MEPs have stood down and the UK no longer has decision-making or voting rights. The UK has, however, gained freedom to negotiate trade deals with other countries for 2021 and beyond.

Likewise, there is little change for UK nationals living in the EU during the transition period, who will retain freedom of movement, the right to remain and access to broadly the same benefits as EU citizens.

There are some exceptions. In France, for example, one change to previous rights is that UK nationals are now no longer able to vote or stand in local elections.

The good news is that UK nationals who are lawfully settled in an EU state before the transition deadline can lock in a lifetime of citizens’ rights under the UK/EU Withdrawal Agreement. These benefits are protected for as long you are resident in that country. But there are currently no protections for UK nationals arriving after 2020.

What does the Withdrawal Agreement say about residency?

Proof of residence – To be covered by the Withdrawal Agreement, you must be settled in France before 31 December 2020 and apply for updated residence documents before 30 June 2021. Although the Agreement allows a six-month buffer for applications, register as soon as possible to avoid potential disruption. If you already hold permanent residence, there is no cost to convert your paperwork.

Reunification rights – Partners and dependent family members are able to join settled residents in an EU country, so long as the relationship is established before 31 December 2020.

Expiry of residency rights – You will lose permanent residency status (and associated EU rights) if you are absent from that country for five consecutive years or more.

Onward freedom of movement – The citizens’ rights only apply to the country you are resident in before the transition period ends. This means that, after 2020, you cannot automatically work or reside in another EU state; instead you may have to apply as a ‘third country’ (non-EU/EEA) national.

What does the Withdrawal Agreement say about healthcare?

Existing entitlements to healthcare will continue for settled residents. As such, the S1 Form system will carry on providing free cover for British pensioners and those receiving certain long-term benefits, as well as their dependants. While the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will also provide free emergency care while travelling in other EU states, UK-issued EHICs will only remain valid up to the end of the transition period.

Note that to qualify for permanent residency in France, you may be asked to show evidence of comprehensive health cover. If you do not hold form S1, you may need to join the local healthcare system or prove you have sufficient private health insurance.

What does the Withdrawal Agreement say about pensions?

UK retirees settled in the EU will continue to receive yearly cost-of-living increases to their State Pension payments. This will apply even if you start claiming your pension after 2020, so long as you meet the conditions to qualify for a UK State Pension.

As things stand, Brexit should not affect how you can withdraw or transfer other UK pensions. However, the UK currently applies a 25% ‘overseas transfer charge’ (effectively an exit tax) on pension transfers outside the EU/ EEA. This could be easily extended once the UK is no longer bound by EU freedom of movement of capital, so there may be limited time to transfer without penalties.

What happens after the transition period?

When the transition period expires on 31 December 2020, automatic freedom of movement will end for UK nationals and a new application process will apply to live or work within the EU. While it will, of course, still be possible to acquire residency, we can expect these processes to be much less straightforward than today, particularly if the UK fails to secure new agreements with EU countries in time.

Under current rules for non-EU/EEA nationals, each individual needs to be able to demonstrate a minimum income to qualify for residence in France, at least equivalent to the national minimum wage. This could prove especially difficult for retiree expatriates, although there are potential ways to restructure assets to meet the requirements.

Brexit beyond 2020

While the Withdrawal Agreement allows for an extension to the transition period (12 or 24 months), Boris Johnson’s pending Brexit legislation has ruled this out.

So 2021 still offers three possible scenarios: 1) the UK has ratified a new trade deal with the EU and the new relationship begins; 2) the transition period is extended as negotiations continue; or 3) the UK cuts trade ties with the EU (no-deal).

Although there may still be the chance of a cliff-edge Brexit and ongoing uncertainty in 2021, the transition period offers a window of certainty if you act this year. If you take steps to come under the protection of the Withdrawal Agreement, you will have locked in a lifetime of rights in France, whatever the Brexit outcome.

To make sure you are making the most of other opportunities within this closing window – and ensure your tax and financial arrangements are optimised for a post-Brexit world – take specialist, cross-border advice.

Blevins Franks accepts no liability for any loss resulting from any action or inaction or omission as a result of reading this information, which is general in nature and not specific to your circumstances.

Keep up to date on the financial issues that may affect you on the Blevins Franks news page at www.blevinsfranks.com

 

 

MonOc publishing on 1st February