TIME FOR THE UK TO MAKE CLEAR ITS POSITION ON CITIZENS’ RIGHTS.
THE FUTURE OF 1.2 MILLION UK CITIZENS IS AT STAKE
We, British in Europe, wish David Davis well in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union which start today. We would like to remind him that he and the UK government are also there to represent the 1.2 million UK citizens most directly impacted by Brexit – those who live in the EU and have been in limbo for a year, waiting for talks to start. We expect him to stick to Theresa May’s repeated pledge to make the sorting out of our post-Brexit rights – on the basis of reciprocity – her highest priority.
While the government has been busy in parliament with the Brexit bill and holding elections, British in Europe, the largest coalition of UK citizens in Europe, has been talking directly to the EU negotiators – who have consulted us on their negotiating directives, which they have changed to take on board many of our concerns.
Jane Golding, the Berlin-based Chair of British in Europe, said: “The result is that the EU offer now gives us almost everything we need and abides by a core principle which both sides should respect – that the rights of citizens in place before Brexit (including the 3 million EU citizens in the UK) should remain unchanged. We applaud that, as well as the EU’s transparency in this matter. For the past year Theresa May has repeatedly refused to make a unilateral offer to the 3 million EU citizens in the UK in order, she has said, to protect the rights of the 1.2 million UK citizens in Europe – but we have no detailed information on what that might mean. The EU offer gives plenty of detail and goes almost all the way to guaranteeing all our rights, but everything depends on how the UK decides to respond. We expect the UK, which has said it will be guided by the principle of reciprocity, to respond with similar magnanimity.”
Fiona Godfrey, Luxembourg-based spokesperson for British in Europe, added: “We and the 3 million EU citizens in the UK must not be used as bargaining chips or for political point-scoring. With that in mind, British in Europe also urges Mr Davis to persuade EU negotiator Michel Barnier that an early agreement on our rights and those of the 3 million EU citizens in the UK should be ring-fenced against the possible future failure of the other aspects of the withdrawal agreement. The lack of ring-fencing simply prolongs the uncertainty for up to 5 million UK and EU citizens.”
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British in Europe Press Release 17.05.17
British in Italy, a member of the British in Europe coalition have just launched a new website. See it here
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:
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: email@example.com