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
Brits in Europe will submit written evidence to the Exiting the European Union Commons Select Committee that will include a position paper looking at the main issues for economically active British citizens living in the EU. For further details contact us here.