British in Europe and the3million have written to DExEU, the Home Office, the EU Commission and Parliament with their comments on Round 2 of the negotiations on citizens’ rights, urging them to take them into account in future rounds.
Read or download the full document here.
The main concerns expressed are:
- The continued failure of both sides, but particularly the UK, to recognise that we have acquired rights which cannot be taken away so that we cannot be asked to “apply” for a “grant” of something less.
- The EU’s apparent U-turn on accepting that those of us who have exercised the right of free movement by moving to an EU27 country should continue to have that right and be free to live, work etc in other EU27 countries.
- The UK’s attempt to defuse criticism of its proposal to make EU citizens with a right of permanent residence apply for a grant of “settled status” under UK immigration rules. They say that settled status will be interpreted according to EU rules on permanent residence. But the result will be an unclear mish-mash of two incompatible systems with the only predictable result being years of uncertainty. We don’t know how much of the highly restrictive UK immigration rules they want to keep for those from the EU but, for example, the UK has recently all but abolished the right of appeal in immigration cases, an abolition which until Brexit does not apply to EEA citizens.
- The determination by both sides to keep the rule that you lose a right of permanent residence if you leave your residence for 2 years. If we all have rights of free movement then this does not create a hardship because if you leave your residence for more than 2 years you have a right to return and re-acquire permanent residence rights after 5. If freedom of movement is removed, however, then you lose that right. Given that many people have good reasons to leave for more than 2 years (think students, think those who move back ‘home’ to look after an ageing relative), this can cause real hardship. The UK is proposing some flexibility here, but if the “flexibility” it shows in the comparable case of non-EU citizens is anything to go by, this will be so limited as to be of little real assistance.
- The EU’s failure to concede voting rights in local elections, though this may just be a bureaucratic issue of whether this is appropriate for the Article 50 agreement.
- The continued failure to discuss, let alone agree, ring-fencing of any agreement which is made on citizens’ rights.
The British in Europe/the3million response document deals with a number of other issues of detail raised in round 2, which those who want to can read if they follow the link above. However it does not go over all the same old ground which we have covered in earlier official publications, so there may well be issues which are important to you which are not mentioned: we will deal with them as they come up (or not) in subsequent rounds of the negotiation.
What has been reassuring is that, as a result of the extensive lobbying we have done, British in Europe and the3million are now being consulted by officials at a very high level on both sides of the Channel. We were debriefed on round 2 almost immediately after the official press conference and invited to have a continuing dialogue with the negotiating teams so that the views of those most directly affected, the citizens whose rights are in issue, are taken into account.
July 2017 European Parliament Briefings Paper ‘EU and UK position on citizens’ rights’ CLICK HERE
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
The BBC on 9 December 2016 reported statements by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator , that the Associate EU citizenship proposal would be fast-tracked and would be on the table as part of the Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK (see BBC coverage). However, some experts in Brussels have since argued that the proposal is unlikely to progress as citizenship rights for citizens of a non-EU country would require Treaty change (see The Guardian coverage).
Associate EU Citizenship Proposal
Charles Goerens, MEP for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Group in the European Parliament, has tabled an amendment to a Parliament report on the future institutional set up of the European Union, calling for the establishment of a European associate citizenship for those who feel and wish to be part of the European project, but are nationals of a former member state. See Charles Goerens’ blog here and his twitter feed with updates.