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.
Speaking on behalf of New Europeans, Roger Casale, Founder and CEO said:
“It is essential that the position of EU citizens in Britain and Brits living in other EU member states is sorted out before Article 50 is triggered and Brexit negotiations begin. We live in the twenty-first century not the interwar period when governments bartered the rights of whole population groups. Even if the legal position is that the rights of EU citizens are not considered to be acquired rights under the Vienna convention, there can be no doubt that from a moral and political point of view, the UK government and the EU institutions and member states should recognise them as such and move swiftly to put the necessary legal safeguards in place. As far as the status of EU citizens and Brits who relocate post the 23 June vote, New Europeans and others will continue to campaign for the right to free movement to be maintained in any Brexit deal.”
See full text of letter to President Schulz here