Ingrid Taylor reports from Munich: After two ‘Brexit Countdown’ evenings, it was time for a follow-up ‘Brexit Stammtisch’ to discuss all the events of recent weeks. On Monday, May 8th, a group of around 50 British professionals met to take stock. In a government declaration in the Bundestag, Angela Merkel herself had welcomed the contribution of British people to German society, and said we should stay. And the EU27 is also supporting our interests, as evidenced in their recently published draft negotiating guidelines (the content of which owes much to the efforts of the British in Europe Coalition). But we are still waiting for positive signals from across the Channel….
Everyone was encouraged to lobby local, national and European politicians, including those in the UK, in order to raise our concerns with those who have influence. A plea was also made for everyone who has a vote in the UK election to use it (with details of how to get your overseas vote on this website) Lawyer David Hole explained the nuances of acquired rights, pointed to the different interpretations on their future and the serious implications of their loss for UK citizens living in the EU27. Rob Harrison outlined the Coalition´s various initiatives and activities. And Monika Haines reported on her survey of local companies, aimed at finding out what their plans are as regards their British employees post-Brexit
Guardian Brexit correspondent Lisa O’Carroll came along to report on the event; she highlighted a number of the issues covered, and interviewed individuals about their concerns.
Flyer for the Event:
Comments by BiE and the3million on EU Negotiating Guidelines plus Commission Recommendation and directives
On 8 May 2017, British in Europe and the3million published our comments on the Negotiating Guidelines plus the Commission Recommendation and directives that were adopted by the European Council on 29th April. It is worth noting that our most serious reservation was the lack of any proposal to ring-fence the agreement on citizens’ rights – an omission which still has not been addressed.
STILL BARGAINING CHIPS: IT IS TIME FOR POLITICIANS IN THE EU AND UK TO PROVE THAT THEY REALLY CARE ABOUT THE 5 MILLION PEOPLE MOST IMPACTED BY BREXIT
April 29, 2017
Campaigners welcome early pledges from the EU to reach a rapid agreement on the maintenance of all existing citizenship rights of more than 3 million EU citizens living in the UK and more than one million UK citizens living in Europe, but fear that they are still being used as bargaining chips. The3Million and the British in Europe coalition say it is now time for politicians on both sides to prove that they really care about them, by reaching a swift, agreement that is ringfenced from the rest of the negotiations in order to protect their rights for the rest of their lifetimes under any kind of scenario.
A draft of the EU negotiating position leaked earlier this week did not include this promise, provoking further uncertainty about the future. The campaigners also call on UK political parties to include in their manifestos for the upcoming general election an explicit pledge to maintain all the acquired rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK.
“For the five million people currently trapped in Brexit limbo, the draft EU negotiating guidelines leaked earlier this week are the best news we have had since the referendum,” said Jeremy Morgan QC, a member of the British in Europe coalition, who lives in Italy. “They clearly state that we should hold on, for the rest of our lives, to all our acquired individual citizenship rights after Brexit and that a deal on this should be reached at the beginning of the negotiating process.”
“There is, however, one glaring hole in the guidelines, which means that none of this might happen,” Morgan added. “We need all sides to agree to ring-fence that deal so that it will continue to stand even if there is no wider agreement covering all other matters, or if this is delayed.”
“This reluctance, so far, to agree on ring-fencing means we remain bargaining chips and we urgently call on all sides to consider the impact of this on five million people who must already cope with the terrible uncertainties provoked by Brexit,” said Costanza de Toma, co-chair of the3Million’s EU-27 working group, which is lobbying EU institutions and national governments on citizenship rights.
“We cannot wait another two years before knowing whether we will really continue to enjoy any of our current rights that derive from our status as EU citizens, whether from Britain or elsewhere. People of all nationalities will suffer as a result,” she added.
British in Europe is also worried about the negotiating position of the UK government, which has been thrown up in the air by the decision to hold a general election in June. It calls on all UK parties to include in their manifestos an explicit pledge to maintain all the acquired rights of EU citizens currently living in the UK. This is now absolutely necessary if UK citizens in Europe are to maintain their current rights. We suggest that parties include in their manifestos the following basic principle for Brexit negotiations: ‘The UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals. UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit’.”
British in Europe is a coalition of a dozen UK citizens groups across the European Union
The3million is made up of EU citizens liiving in the UK and campaigns for their rights after Brexit
For more on this issue, or to comment on today’s events please contact.
Jeremy Morgan QC, British in Europe (Italy) +39 3888714943
Costanza de la Toma, The3Million +44 7900211523
Message from chair of Pro Europa Martin Bailey. Published with the permission of Pro Europa.
Dear Pro Europa supporters,
I am very sad to report the passing of Pro Europa’s founder, Sir Julian Priestley. Even though he had been battling with serious illness for some time, it has come as an enormous shock.
To many of us, he was a friend, a mentor, an inspiration; but however we knew him, he was to all of us Europhiles one of the great men of Europe, someone who confounded every prejudice of every Eurosceptic, Europhobe or any other brand of anti-European.
He devoted his entire professional life to the European project, and so richly deserved his knighthood for his services to Europe. And it is to Julian that we owe the existence of Pro Europa, and its many achievements.
I had the pleasure to work closely with Julian over the past years, a time of collaboration in which we became close personal friends. If there is one quality that most sets Julian apart from his peers, it is his personal and professional bravery. He was never the craven bureaucrat, never shied from standing up for the weak and never failed to speak truth to power. In many private conversations, as well as in displays of public oratory, he lamented the cowardice and handwringing of politicians and bureaucrats, who hid under the political bedclothes from the demons that threatened them.
For us members of Pro Europa, we pay tribute to Julian’s lifelong work for the European project. If I know him well, he would be telling us to keep on fighting, keep on making the arguments, keep on sticking our heads above the parapet, and now more than ever in these turbulent times. A light has gone out, but it is for us to be the new guardians of the flame that in his memory will forever burn brightly.
Our thoughts now go to his partner of over 30 years, Jean Schons, whom he recently married in 2015.
We will miss you Julian.
On behalf of Pro Europa,
Martin Bailey, Chair
British in Europe Press Release after Madrid Meeting on April 19
The British in Europe coalition is pleased to have had high level contact with the UK government to discuss the post-Brexit rights of more than one million UK citizens living in the EU. At a meeting in Madrid on Wednesday British in Europe representatives – who come from a dozen UK citizens groups across the EU – informed the government of the difficulties faced by many people as a result of Brexit and urged it to back our call for all current rights to be conserved.
We will continue to exchange information and put forward case studies that illustrate the extremely complex and intertwined nature of the rights we currently enjoy. We were very pleased to have opened what should now become a constant dialogue between the government and the largest coalition of UK citizens groups in the EU.
British in Europe urged the government to abide by the governing principle contained in our Alternative White Paper, which asks all sides in the upcoming negotiations to first agree that “the UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals” and that “UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit”.
British in Europe also called on the government to explicitly promise UK pensioners living in the EU that those pensions will continue to be updated after Brexit. This is a unilateral matter for the UK government and we are hopeful that it will soon publicly state its position on this matter. Hundreds of thousands of UK pensioners have been left to worry about this for too long. We will also be increasing pressure on EU negotiators and governments to change their position so that an agreement on our rights – and those of 3 million EU citizens in the UK – can be ring-fenced and will stand if there is no wider agreement. Refusal to go down this road amounts to using us all as bargaining chips.
With elections now on the horizon, British in Europe is calling for all parties to include the governing principle for Brexit negotiations in their manifestos. This reads: “The UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals. UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit. This is not confined to a right of continued residence but extends to all related rights such as the acquisition of citizenship, the right to continue to work, whether employed or self-employed, or run a business, recognition of qualifications, right to study, right of equal treatment, right to move between and work freely across all EU countries without loss or change of any existing EU rights, the right to healthcare, pensions, social benefits/social assistance etc. In short, the full complex of indivisible EU citizenship rights that they currently have should be guaranteed for these individuals.”
For further information or interview request contact Giles Tremlett: firstname.lastname@example.org
British in Europe coalition demands that citizens rights be first priority in Brexit negotiations
The largest coalition of UK citizens groups in Europe laments that Article 50 has been triggered without first guaranteeing the existing rights of over four million people who were thrust into this Brexit limbo on the day after the referendum.
The British in Europe coalition now calls on all sides to agree that the people who are most directly affected by Brexit – over one million UK citizens in the EU, and around three million EU citizens in the UK – must have all their current rights maintained. This should be the first priority of Brexit negotiators and dealt with separately to all forthcoming issues. The lives and livelihoods of so many people must not be bargained away for material gains on either side of the negotiating table.
“Over four million people – including over one million UK citizens in the EU – must be put first in Brexit negotiations, with a deal hammered out quickly to release them from this ongoing suffering and uncertainty. The UK’s withdrawal from the EU must not affect individuals retrospectively,” said the coalition’s spokesperson Jane Golding based in Berlin.
Golding added: “The existing rights of these citizens resident in another EU country before the UK leaves – must be guaranteed. This is not just the right and moral thing to do, it is also the simplest and fairest solution.“
Fiona Godfrey based in Luxembourg with the coalition added: “If UK politicians disagree, and given that the government insists any future arrangement will be reciprocal, then Mrs May must explain to the electorate exactly which rights she believes over one million UK citizens currently residing in the EU should be deprived of after Brexit.”
Both the UK government and EU27 states already agree that those resident in the UK or other EU27 countries before the UK leaves the EU must be treated differently to those who arrive afterwards. The British in Europe coalition believes this can be settled quickly and smoothly if all sides agree that their existing acquired rights are guaranteed.
“We were very heartened by the determination of Michel Barnier in our meeting with him yesterday in Brussels, to put our rights first in the negotiations,” added Godfrey. “The UK government has indicated that it too, wants to make this a priority. We would like to build a similar working relationship with the UK government and very much hope that we will be able to meet David Davis in the near future.”
For further information or interview requests contact us here.
70 British residents of Munich and the surrounding area came together on 27th March evening to review their options on the eve of Article 50 being triggered on the 29th March. (Photos of event below) The event aimed to provide information and an opportunity for all Brits living in the area to discuss the prospect of Brexit and the impact it may have on British citizens living in Germany. David Hole (solicitor and Rechtsanwalt) detailed the rights possibly at risk and potential scenarios. Ingrid Taylor (translator and teacher of German) reported on the work of the British in Europe Coalition, and set out what was involved in applying for German citizenship. Taylor said:
“The urgency in submitting citizenship applications soon must be underlined, as the waiting time in Munich to get an appointment to hand in the completed application is 8 months. It then takes the authorities a further 6 – 9 months to process the application. The clock is therefore ticking for those who want to obtain German citizenship ahead of Brexit and still retain their UK citizenship, i.e. dual citizenship. After Brexit, it is unlikely that both will be possible; it will be one or the other“
Due to the level of interest a second Brexit Countdown Event is being held in Munich on Monday, April 3rd. See details below: