martes, 7 de noviembre de 2017


A quick update on our activites at the same time as reminding you that on Friday 17 (Centro Gallego 18.30) we will be having our next group meeting.     
 We have been regularly publishing British in Europe info on FB, but see below a summary of where we are in negotiations. Things are not looking good as there is deadlock and a hardening of positions on both sides, especially from the EU. However, there is huge pressure to declare 'sufficient progress' and to move onto the next stage where issues like future trade arrangements will be discussed. This means that the attention will shift to other issues. Our rights will thus be given scant attention and in any outstanding negotiations we will literally be bargained off against trade concessions. 

    It is patently clear that there has not been 'sufficient progress'. For both UKinEU and EUinUK citizens, there is a very long way to go on guaranteeing our rights, even though progress has been made on social security, health and pensions. Currently, the biggest stumbling block for UKinEU like us is the ending of our freedom of movement rights in the EU27 - according to the current EU position we will be 'landlocked' in one country with no right to move or work in another. The recognition of professional qualifications will be limited as will be the scope of our economic rights. Finally, if we move away for more than two years, we will lose all our rights. Voting rights are another issue, though local voting seems to have been taken out of the equation as it varies between different EU27 countries and will be dealt with bilaterally. 
     A sombre panorama indeed and one which will affect the lives of many of our members. So, there is all the more need for a huge effort in the weeks leading up to the EU summit on 14/15 December. As mentioned before, we have been putting a lot of effort into British in Europe. By supporting BiE and participating actively we can make a real difference and be present at high-level negotiations. Last weekend, I attended a strategy meeting in Brussels of the BiE steering committee (see a light-hearted account: A SURREAL MEETING IN BRUSSELS).  BiE's most important date comes early next week (13/11) when four members will meet for the second time with Michel Barnier - the man who promised that people's everyday lives would not be affected by Brexit. Towards the middle of this month we will also be cranking up an e-lobbying campaign on MEPs (you will hear more about that). Remember, the European Parliament can veto any Withdrawal Agreement.
     At the same time EuroCitizens is still as active as ever in Spain. Camilla is furiously networking and giving talks on citizens' rights after Brexit at prestigious seminars. She and Richard Spellman led the team which produced the EC videos - 'Brexit and me - voices from Spain' (see links on the blog). The videos are of fantastic quality - our congratulations and thanks to everyone involved. John Carrivick also did an excellent report to back them up about the impact of Brexit on education (Brexit and education).
    You will remember that in September we had a meeting in the British Embassy, with the ambasssador Simon Manley and the consul Sarah-Jane Morris. We presented them with a long document that had a long list of queries from UK citizens in Spain (both from EuroCitizens and Bremain in Spain). We had expected to receive individual replies to people's concerns, but only received a general statement on citizens' rights and of the government's position. Highly disappointing.

   We hope you can make it on the 17 November. Now is the crunch time to fight for your rights. Just to remind you that nearly a year ago we had our first public event (UK nationals in Madrid unite to defend their rights). At the meeting we will evaluate what we have achieved over our first year. We will also discuss our strategy for the next few months - so please start mulling it over and come along with lots of bright ideas (and ways of implementing them!).

BiE review of negotiations:


After the meeting
The business district at half past eight on a Sunday morning in November:

A bitter wind sweeps in from Outer Siberia. The streets of the home city of René Magritte are deserted apart from the occasional jogger and dog walker. The restaurants and cafés are shut. The boulangerie looks open but is not, its delicious cream cakes tantalisingly out of reach. A pity there is no brick to hand to smash the shop window and get that hit of caffeine and sugar. Even the 24/7 supermarket is locked and bolted - and that would require heavy artillery.

Half an hour later, out of the cold and inside the foyer of a modern office block:

This place is home to an embassy and a European institution dedicated to fighting alcohol abuse. Was it a good idea to have that second glass of Belgian whisky after dinner? On the third floor, there is a plush, well-equipped office. In the kitchen, someone has laid on coffee, fresh croissants and sticky buns. Hallelujah! 

In the meeting room, a dozen or so men and women mill around:

Something is strange, these people are all Brits. A Brexiteer terrorist cell plotting to blow up the nearby EU Commission on Guy Fawkes Day? Unlikely. This lot hark from all corners of Europe: Paris, Berlin, the Duchy of Luxembourg, the windswept Dutch seaside, the depths of provincial France, a wooded hill in earthquake-wracked Umbria and a rocky mountainside in central Spain. There are three lawyers, one of them a QC. Some have backgrounds in business and consultancy. One is a psychotherapist with a walking business in the French Pyrenees. There is a magazine publisher and an educational writer. What an odd mix.

The meeting begins. There are flip charts and post-it notes, laptops unsheathed:

So who the hell are these guys? Cranks dreaming of bringing back Esperanto? Bird lovers fighting to save the European lesser spotted bearded tit from extinction? No, they are talking about citizens’ rights and Brexit, so this must be something political. But two or three of them are lifelong Labour supporters. Another couple are prominent figures in the Conservative party. There is a diehard LibDem and at least one stray Green. A broad church one might say. Can we expect fireworks, blood on the floor?

A professional facilitator chivvies proceedings along:

In two weeks’ time, she will be doing the same with the heads of states of the European Union in Gothenburg. So why is she wasting her valuable time on this motley crew? The talk turns to strategy. These people have met Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt. They have regular tête-à-têtes with top civil servants from DExEU and the Home Office. They hobnob with MEPs in Brussels and frequent the draughty corridors of the Palace of Westminster. Only the elusive David Davis remains beyond their reach. But of course he is a very busy man.

The debate ebbs and flows, the flip chart flips:

The group mulls over strategy: what to do if negotiations break down, if there is no Brexit deal; how to campaign over the next crucial weeks before the EU summit in December. They talk about statutes and funding, organisation and outreach, media and communication. But there is something unusual about this meeting. None of the participants are nodding off. Nobody is doodling or playing Candy Crush. This is exciting stuff! And they keep it up for eight hours, with a quick break for lunch in an unheated Lebanese restaurant.

After the event, several participants sip Belgian beer in an Irish pub:

So how did it go? The agenda was covered and crucial decisions made. And without any posturing or futile argument, without big egos or hogging the floor. There is a lot to do, there are veritable mountains to climb. But everybody feels positive. The politicians playing poker with the lives of four million people are going to find these campaigners a thorn in their side. If more people join up, volunteer to take on small tasks and spread the workload, almost anything could be achieved. Next week, four of the participants will be meeting the great Monsieur Barnier himself. They will remind him of his promise not to let Brexit change people’s everyday lives.

What’s the name of the group? I really want to know.

Sorry, I almost forgot. It’s called British in Europe  - the coalition representing UK citizens in Europe. Get in touch. Join up. Volunteer. You can make a difference too.

Report on British in Europe Steering Committee meeting 05/11/17 by Michael Harris (EuroCitizens)

lunes, 6 de noviembre de 2017


'Brexit and me' EuroCitizens/British in Europe video
It is vital for politicians, journalists and the general public to understand the human cost of Brexit, especially for young people. Some people think that 'everything will be all right' and ask us why we are worrying. Well, you can see the impact already; the uncertainty is profoundly affecting the lives of over four million people who have become bargaining chips. And, in the medium and long-term, Brexit could have huge effects on the education, family lives, jobs and futures of a whole generation.
EuroCitizens has produced interviews with young people and university teachers, both British and Spanish, to find out how they feel about Brexit and how it could affect their lives.
Please share them with family, friends (and enemies), colleagues, school associations etc. 
  1. Brexit - Feelings  “How do you feel about Brexit?”
  2. Brexit - Walls  “Is Brexit putting up new walls?”
  3. Brexit - Impact on Education “How will Brexit change life for students and universities?”
  4. Brexit - Being European “What does being European mean to you?”
  5. Brexit - European identity “How does Brexit affect European identity?”
Also see this report on the impact of Brexit on students, parents, teachers, researchers, schools, language schools and universities in Spain:

viernes, 3 de noviembre de 2017


Brexit could have far-reaching consequences for education both in Spain and Britain. With the current deadlock in negotiations there are serious concerns about the recognition of school-leaving qualifications, the legalisation of documents and the need for work permits for teachers and other staff at British schools and British-owned language schools. Another issue is the payment of UK university fees for pupils at British schools in Spain, which will probably change after Brexit (see table).

martes, 17 de octubre de 2017


See the British in Europe newsletter which was produced by a member of EuroCitizens. We aim to put out these bulletins at least once a month, to keep the members of all coalition groups abreast with BiE activities, as well as with what is happening in the negotiations. 

We are not going through an easy time and we feel that it is important to explain to UKinEU citizens, as clearly and accurately as possible, what 'concessions' each side has made and where exactly we stand on our rights. For nearly a year and a half we have all been suffering from huge uncertainty and anxiety about our futures. If you have a particular query, email us and, if we cannot answer it, we will send it on to the legal experts in the coalition.

Despite the current deadlock and the hardening of attitudes on both sides, EuroCitizens and British in Europe will redouble our efforts over the next few weeks. We cannot sit back and watch our lives being used in this disgraceful game of human poker.

domingo, 8 de octubre de 2017


Jane Golding in London last month
Response of the3million and British in Europe to Round 4 of the Negotiations:

Executive Summary 

the3million and British in Europe note that some progress has been made in this round over matters such as direct effect, frontier workers, and finalising the agreement on healthcare. Nevertheless, our overall assessment at this stage in the negotiations is that the rights that we currently have as EU citizens are not being protected. The principle expressed by M. Barnier that “Brexit should not alter the nature of people's daily lives” is being undermined with each round of the negotiations. The fact that boxes in the technical note turn green does not mean that our rights are being defended. All the fundamental concerns expressed earlier remain including, in particular, as regards the UK’s proposal of settled status, and the EU’s position not to grant free movement rights to UK citizens in the EU. Above all, the declared fundamental status of EU citizenship is being seriously tested in this unprecedented situation, - and, unfortunately, to date it has been found wanting. Which leaves around 5 million EU citizens asking the question, if not now, when?