I'm going to write in first person to make it easier to explain the situation, though it doesn't refer to me.
I am the spouse of an EU citizen (not Croatian), but I am not an EU citizen myself. We moved to France earlier this year, my spouse has a fixed-term work contract here. Getting a residence permit is proving to be a nightmare for me. After more than 5 months I still haven't received it, I am unable to get any information on how long it will take, and the Prefecture keeps being inconsistent in their requirements (they request documents by post that they assured me they absolutely don't need when I brought them in person earlier, etc.). It is also very hard to deal with them because we do not speak any French, while all their employees who deal with foreigners seems to only speak French and nothing else. Not having the residence permit means that I cannot travel out of the country (which I need to do to honour family commitments) and I can only get a temporary work-contract, which cannot be renewed indefinitely this I might lose my job. These things are causing me considerable stress.
My understanding is that spouses of EU citizens are entitled to the same treatment as EU citizens themselves:
During their stay in your new country, your non-EU spouse, (grand)children or (grand)parents should be treated as nationals, notably as regards access to employment, pay and benefits facilitating access to work, enrolment in schools, etc.
Under what conditions does this apply? Is my treatment here in France illegal? (I.e. in practice I cannot get a fixed-term work contract because the residence permit is a requirement, and it doesn't seem like I will get it any time soon. I also don't have freedom of movement.)
I have seen comments online that according to EU law the residence permit (of a spouse of an EU citizen) cannot be delayed for more than a certain amount of time. What is the exact legal situation? For how long can they delay it?
Even if there are EU laws that require that the residence permit should be issued within a certain amount of time, I have a bad feeling that France might simply not respect them. What can I do in practice to move this along? At the Prefecture everyone seems to be denying personal responsibility.
What are the exact conditions under which I can get the residence permit? They were asking for several payslips of my spouse before they even started processing my request. This was taking a very long time. What other options are there? Is it possible to simply show that I have enough funds to support myself through a bank statement (they didn't seem to be open to this option), and does it go faster?
Is there any way to check on the status of the application? At the Prefecture I was told that this is not possible, and that I will not even be notified when it is ready. They said I must go and check in person which means that I need to take a full day off and queue for several hours just to be told that they still have no idea when it will be ready.
In general, are there any EU laws that I can practically use to obtain a French residence permit in a timely manner as a spouse of an EU citizen?