martes, 7 de noviembre de 2017

EUROCITIZENS NEWSLETTER: NOVEMBER 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:

A SURREAL MEETING IN BRUSSELS

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- VOICES FROM SPAIN

'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. 
Links:
  1. Brexit - Feelings  “How do you feel about Brexit?”   https://youtu.be/rb975Yz8zVc
  2. Brexit - Walls  “Is Brexit putting up new walls?”    https://youtu.be/Y0Csn0BZqS8
  3. Brexit - Impact on Education “How will Brexit change life for students and universities?”  https://youtu.be/f5zwkaNuyo4
  4. Brexit - Being European “What does being European mean to you?”  https://youtu.be/D_ipEECMW98
  5. Brexit - European identity “How does Brexit affect European identity?”   https://youtu.be/4wkuvhnHdDs
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

THE POTENTIAL IMPACT OF BREXIT ON BRITISH EDUCATION IN SPAIN

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

BiE NEWSLETTER: THE STATE OF NEGOTIATIONS ON CITIZENS' RIGHTS

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

06/10/17: BRITISH IN EUROPE LOBBYING UPDATE (AFTER 4TH ROUND)


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? 
 

lunes, 25 de septiembre de 2017

HOW TO APPLY FOR SPANISH NATIONALITY

Many Britons who have been living a long time in Spain are so worried about their situation after Brexit that they are applying for Spanish nationality, despite the fact that there is no dual nationality treaty between the two countries. By doing this, people feel that they will be able to conserve the rights that they are in danger of losing. 
Two EuroCitizens members have prepared a table detailing the steps that you need to take in order to apply for Spanish nationality, which we hope will be of use. We are not lawyers and cannot give any advice about whether or not you should make the application. That is up to individuals. What we are doing is lobbying for the introduction of dual nationality for Britons in Spain (Spanish citizens in the UK can get dual nationality).


 





































































































EUROCITIZENS HAS A FRANK AND OPEN EXCHANGE OF VIEWS WITH HM AMBASSADOR SIMON MANLEY

John Carrivick, Sarah-Jane Morris, Camilla Hillier-Fry, Simon Manley, Nigel Aston, Michael Harris

On Thursday 21 September EuroCiizens met HM Ambassador Simon Manley and Consul Sarah-Jane Morris in the British Embassy in Madrid. We explained that we were also representing other British in Europe groups with members in Spain like Bremain and ECREU and presented a document with an extensive list of queries from UK nationals

We started by expressing concern about the state of EU/UK negotiations on citizens' rights. After the promising directives from the EU in May, the 'generous' UK offer at the end of June was disappointing and has caused a hardening of the EU's stance, resulting in a narrower interpretation of the rights of UK citizens in the EU. Mr Manley defended the UK position and pointed out that the UK was tied to some extent by what the EU was prepared to negotiate to date. He added that progress has been made, for example on pensions and healthcare.
We agreed on a methodology for dealing with the queries from UK citizens. The Embassy will get back to us with written answers over the next couple of weeks. Mr Manley stressed that they would not be able to answer all of the questions, especially those of a political nature and those relating to areas not yet agreed between the UK and the EU. EuroCitizens then mentioned various incidents of bureaucratic problems suffered by UK nationals in Spain and Mr Manley promised to take each of them up with the Spanish and British authorities (as appropriate).
EuroCitizens criticised the lack of information on the Embassy webpage and FB page about how Brexit will affect the lives of UK citizens. The Ambassador's videos and letters were useful if somewhat over-optimistic, but what is needed is an area on the webpage to direct citizens to accessible information about the negotiations and any changes that might affect their lives. Ms Morris pointed out the considerable diversity amongst the British community in Spain, but said that the Embassy would look into ways of improving the flow of information.
The meeting lasted nearly two hours and there was a cordial, frank and open exchange of views between both sides. We now look forward to getting answers to the queries sent in by concerned citizens.

martes, 29 de agosto de 2017

WHY DOES THE EU WANT TO END FREEDOM OF MOVEMENT FOR UK RESIDENTS AFTER BREXIT?

'Brexit should not alter the nature of people's daily lives'  05/05/17
EuroCitizens Madrid (29/08/17)  

One of the most worrying developments in the second round of negotiations was the EU's declaration that UK nationals living in the EU would have the right to live in their country of residence but no 'further movement rights'. This means that we would be able to continue living where we do, but would not be able to travel, live or work elsewhere in the EU. 

This would make UK nationals 'landlocked' in one country of the EU and goes completely against Michel Barnier's promise that people's lives would not change after Brexit (see photo). Stripping Britons resident in the EU of freedom of movement would also go against the EU negotiating guidelines published in May. 

The international lawyer and chair of British in Europe, Jane Golding, has produced a detailed document (see link below) that highlights the many legal flaws in the EU's argument:
- the right to residence and free movement are not separate rights but two elements of the same right (you cannot have one without the other).
-free movement, which we have been enjoying for years, is for the whole territory of the EU and is not related to individual nation states
-when a 3rd country national married to an EU citizen is divorced, they do not lose their rights to residence or free movement in Europe. Thus, why should Britons lose this right when their change of circumstances has been imposed on them?
-many Britons have Permanent Residence (5 years in the EU). Third country nationals with PR have the right to free movement within the EU. So why should hundreds of thousands of Britons be worse off?

Ms Golding then goes on to talk about the effects of this interpretation on Britons. One particular impact would be on cross-border workers, of whom there are many. One sort are people who live in one country (say France) and work in another (say Luxembourg or Switzerland). With an end to free movement for UK nationals their lives would become untenable. Other cross-border workers spend periods of time working in one or more countries and this would all stop.
British in Europe has provided detailed case studies (see link below) which illustrate the impact that the huge impact the end to free movement would have on the lives of thousands of people.

EuroCitizens and British in Europe will be campaigning furiously for the EU to reverse its stance on freedom of movement. In the second half of September we will be lobbying of MEPs. Please participate in our e-lobby of UK MPs leading up to a mass lobby in Westminister on 13 September. 

BiE document on freedom of movement for UK nationals

Case studies of UK nationals affected by the end to freedom of movement


jueves, 24 de agosto de 2017

MASS LOBBY: NOW IS THE TIME TO FIGHT FOR YOUR RIGHTS!

Why should I lobby MPs now?
There have been two rounds of negotiations between the UK and the EU about Citizens' Rights and a third round clarifiying positions will be held next week (end August).
The start has not been promising. The British government has insisted on EU citizens post-Brexit fitting into UK immigration procedures for third country nationals, with a loss of rights and the end of the protection of the European Court of Justice. In what could be a race to the bottom, the European Commission has gone back on its own negotiating guideliness and said that post-Brexit UK nationals will have no freedom of movement within the EU. This would be leave us landlocked and without the possibility to travel freely and work throughout Europe. 
Despite magnanimous promises of guaranteeing citizens' rights, both sides seem to be prepared to see them undermined and for the 3 million Europeans in Britain and 1.2 million Britons in the EU to be used as bargaining chips.

How can I participate in the e-lobby?
It's very easy. You just sign up and send an email to your UK MP (in the place you last voted). So far 750 members of British in Europe have joined up, but we need thousands more.
You can also share with your friends and families in the UK to increase the impact even more.
sign up to mass lobby here 

What is the mass lobby in London on 13 September?
There will be short welcome speeches at the Emmanuel Centre between 13h00 and 14h00 (including from BiE), and these will be broadcast live via Facebook Live. The lobby itself will happen between 14h00 and 18h00, when people will be taken across to the House of Commons in groups to meet their MPs. There will be representatives from BiE, the3million and Unison in each of the committee rooms in Parliament throughout the afternoon, greeting and briefing MPs and peers.  From 18h00 there will be a large rally in Trafalgar Square with speeches from key politicians (names to be announced?
If you can't go, try to convince friends and family in London to go to the big rally in Trafalgar Square.  

13/09 MASS LOBBY: WHAT ARE WE ASKING FROM MPs?

EuroCitizens is participating in a mass lobby of MPs in Westminster on 13 September as part of the British in Europe coalition (more information).

What are we asking for?

We are not demanding special treatment – just that the rules of the game are not changed after the match has started. 

Here are our five asks:
  • Keep the rights we already have as EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU, so that we can continue to live our lives as before the Brexit vote.
  • Guarantee these rights for life under the ECJ, so we have certainty that rules will not change in the future.
  • Support ring-fencing an agreement on citizens’ rights from the rest of the UK/EU negotiations, so our lives are not used as a bargaining chip, and we can have peace of mind even if there is no overall deal.
  • Introduce a free, easy to use registration process for EU citizens in the UK, so we can effectively claim our rights.
  • British citizens in the EU keep their free movement rights, and the right to study in the UK paying the same fees and with access to the same loans as someone living in Britain

martes, 22 de agosto de 2017

PARTICIPATE IN THE MASS LOBBY OF THE UK PARLIAMENT ON 13 SEPTEMBER!

EuroCitizens is participating in the mass lobby of the UK parliament on Wednesday 13 September as part of the British in Europe coalition. Other groups organising this event are the3million, Another Europe is Possible, European Alternatives, Migrants Rights Network and UNISON. We will be asking MPs to fully protect our rights after Brexit so that we can stay in the countries we love. 

Here is a message from Kalba Meadows who is coordinating the campaign for BiE: 

'We at British in Europe want to make this the biggest e-lobby that the UK has ever seen, so we really want you all to join in. You don't need to go to London, you don't even need to get out of your armchair - you just need to be willing to speak out for your citizens' rights.
This is your chance to be heard directly, on the issues that will affect the rest of your lives.
There are around 30,000 members in all the British in Europe groups put together, so together we can make this huge and really effective. 

Go to this page: https://britishineurope.org/mass-lobby-13th-sept/ to find out all the details, then register. It will take you just a few minutes to sign up. 

Please get involved, and do it today - and please pass this on to your friends and families. Thank you!'

jueves, 10 de agosto de 2017

MEETING OF BRITISH IN EUROPE WITH THE PROVINCIAL GOVERNMENT OF ALICANTE TO DISCUSS CITIZENS' RIGHTS

Mercedes Alonso with Margaret and Gerald Hales (ECREU and BiE)
For over a year, thousands of Britons living in the province of Alicante have been suffering from extreme uncertainty about their futures after Brexit. This week Margaret and Gerald Hales (ECREU and British in Europe) met Mercedes Alonso, the Family and Citizenship councillor of the Province of Alicante, to discuss these issues. Señora Alonso promised to work for the rights of the large population of Britons living in the province and to maintain close contact with the associations of UK residents. The issue of dual nationality was also brought up and Margaret Hales asked for the relaxation of rules for British citizens (at the moment there is no double nationality treaty between the two countries). Commenting on the meeting, Sue Wilson (Bremain and British in Europe) stressed the need for citizens' groups to engage with different levels of the Spanish administration to end the use of UK and EU citizens as bargaining chips.
EuroCitizens would like to thank our BiE partners. We will all continue to work together closely, in Spain, Brussels, Strasbourg and Westminster to protect the rights of UK and EU citizens affected by Brexit.

More information:

jueves, 3 de agosto de 2017

A DISAPPOINTING START TO THE NEGOTIATIONS ON CITIZENS' RIGHTS

Initial negotiations     Photo: Sky

Negotiations on the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU began in earnest with the second round of talks in July, producing some initial posturing and rhetoric (especially from the British side). There are worrying developments on some key issues such as the freedom of movement for UK citizens in Europe, Britain's insistence on UK immigration law, the two-year limit on permanent residence, the EU refusal to concede voting rights and the lack of discussion about the ring-fencing of any agreement. 
      Are we looking at a race to the bottom for our rights? We hope not, as this would go against previous declarations from Michel Barnier and the EU's own negotiation directives. The British in Europe and 3million coalitions have carried out a detailed analysis of the current position which has been sent to both sides in the negotiations (see below).
    In September the red lines of both parties will be much clearer. Throughout the whole process, the British in Europe and its groups like EuroCitizens will be carrying out lobbying on five fronts: the European Parliament, the EU Commission, the UK government, both chambers at Westminister, the EU27 governments. 


viernes, 30 de junio de 2017

THE UK PROPOSALS FOR CITIZENS' RIGHTS: THE DEVIL IS IN THE DETAIL

See below some more in-depth analysis of what the recent UK offer on citizens' rights means for us. 
We will also be publishing the detailed reactions of the British in Europe legal team soon. This week coalition representatives met with Michel Barnier's deputy, Guy Verhofstadt of the European Parliament and Didier Seeuws of the European Council (EU27 governments) and received a positive reaction. 
There seems to be a general consensus that the offer was the bare minimum and with considerable lack of clarity on key issues. 

Analysis:

martes, 27 de junio de 2017

23/06: EUROCITIZENS MEETING- PREPARING FOR THE LONG HAUL


The last EuroCitizens meeting before the break, and a year after the Brexit referendum, was held at the Centro Gallego on Friday 23 June and, considering the date, time and extreme heat, the turn-out was fantastic with a full house. The meeting was extremely productive and good ideas (and volunteers to carry them out) emerged from it. Brexit negotiations have just begun and they promise to be long and arduous. EuroCitizens is ready for this, we are prepared for a long battle to keep our citizenship rights.

Report on meeting:

GOVERNMENT MUST DO MUCH MORE TO PROTECT UK CITIZENS IN EUROPE


PRESS RELEASE June 27, 2017


British in Europe*, the largest coalition of UK citizens groups in Europe, warns that the government needs to do more to protect the futures of 1.2 million UK citizens in the EU with its offer on citizens rights published on Monday. 

British in Europe Chair Jane Golding said:
“Apart from the fact that paper makes very few detailed mentions of UK citizens in Europe – even though we represent by far the largest national group of people who will be impacted by the citizens rights deal the government strategy is clearly putting our future rights at risk. It insists on both reciprocity and on restricting some of the current rights of EU citizens living in the UK. That means that the EU may well respond with measures to restrict some of our current rights too. That would be the exact opposite to Theresa May’s stated intention to use reciprocity in order to protect those rights.
“Our meetings with DExEU officials and ministers on Monday were constructive – but we believe the UK government must do a lot more to show that it takes seriously its duty of care and protection to 1.2m UK citizens in Europe. Otherwise we run the risk of being the sacrificial lambs of Brexit, while the government focuses instead on immigration arrangements for EU citizens already in the UK.”
The UK government’s offer lacks clarity in comparison to the detailed EU offer published end May. There is very little here about what Theresa May actually wants to achieve for us and how our rights should be protected, despite the UK Government emphasising all along that they wanted to protect the rights of British citizens living in the EU. Since we are the biggest national group, more than 1.2 million, affected by Brexit, the Government needs to think carefully about how its offer to EU citizens in the UK may impact the offer that UK citizens already have on the table from the EU."
“In our view, to suggest that any offer made by either side would be generous is simply wrong - all we want and EU citizens in the UK want is to keep the status quo and get on with our lives. It is a matter of justice - people made lives, careers and founded families in other countries in good faith and with the legitimate expectation that the rules would remain the same for the rest of their lives. People have had their lives on hold now for a year. Until there is final deal, and that deal is ring fenced from the other issues so that whatever happens in the negotiations, it will stand, we won’t be able to sleep at night and will still be bargaining chips.”
“British in Europe has been working hard behind the scenes to ensure that UK citizens in the EU – those who will be at the forefront of our future relationship with Europe – are treated fairly. While the government was passing Article 50 and holding elections, we were consulting with the EU over their negotiating stance, which was improved to take in several of our suggestions. We have also been keeping DExEU officials and ministers up-to-date about our needs and concerns. We hope to continue that relationship in

order to help the government carry out its stated mission to protect the futures of UK citizens living in the EU.”
British in Europe Deputy Chair, Fiona Godfrey, who also attended the meeting with ministers on Monday added:
“This may be an opening gambit but at the moment, because this is an issue for the UK vis- a-vis EU citizens’ rights going forward, we lose family reunification rights - bringing over sick relatives, going back to the UK with non-UK, EU spouses - which we currently have in our countries of residence, just like EU citizens in the UK. And it looks as if our British kids will be on international fees at Universities after 2019, and also risk not being able to return to EU27 countries after their studies, unless the permanent residence position of students studying in the UK pre- and post-Brexit is clarified. On healthcare, despite Theresa May’s statement in the House of Commons that the UK would continue to provide healthcare cover in the EU, the language on this is vague, the UK “will seek to protect the healthcare arrangements”. The language on pensions is also muddling ’
Godfrey continues: "This is the same for the proposal on mutual recognition, where the language is also vague, and as far as we can see, cross border working. These are important issues, given that around 80% of UK citizens in the EU are working people who want to know that their livelihoods are secured in future." 

BACKGROUND:
There are 1.2 Million UK citizens in the EU. The next largest group to be impacted by the citizens’ rights deal will be the 880,000 Poles in the UK. After that (given that Irish citizens are covered by a separate treaty) come 300,000 Germans (see here).
On Thursday last week, Theresa May outlined her offer to EU citizens in the UK to EU leaders at a dinner in Brussels and yesterday the detailed offer was unveiled in London. Members of British in Europe, the coalition of 11 UK citizens’ groups in the EU, were at a meeting at the House of Commons with DExEU Minister, Robin Walker, and Immigration Minister, Brandon Mitchell, to discuss the contents of the offer shortly before Theresa May made her statement in the House of Commons on this.
The background is that the EU made its detailed offer public end May, having published a draft on 3 May, on which British in Europe, and the EU citizens’ group, the3million, with which British in Europe work closely, were asked by the European Commission to comment. The UK is therefore now responding, given that a EU offer was already on the table.
Apart from the area of family reunification, British in Europe sees two other points as likely to raise issues during the negotiations: the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union going forward, and, critically, the cut-off date. Until the cut-off date is clear, neither EU citizens in the UK nor UK citizens in the EU will have final certainty about their position. At the moment, a date somewhere between 29 March 2017, the date on which Article 50 was triggered and the date the UK is due to leave the EU is being discussed. However, EU law applies in full in the UK until Brexit date and thus any date earlier than that would be difficult for the UK government to justify legally.
As far as the issue of the Court of Justice is concerned, that is a matter for the negotiations




and British in Europe notes that the EU has built some flexibility into their proposal. Ultimately, there will need to be some form of dispute resolution body and a way for individuals to enforce their rights. Whichever body that might be, and even if it were the Court of Justice, in practice, all this would mean is the UK courts making decisions about EU citizens' rights and simply referring to that body as they saw fit. 

* EuroCitizens is one of the dozen groups in British in Europe.

LA OFERTA DE MAY REBAJA NUESTRO ESTATUS COMO 'CIUDADANOS EUROPEOS' A 'INMIGRANTES ASENTADOS'

Theresa May ha esperado un año para ofrecer a los ciudadanos europeos en el Reino Unido el estatus de 'inmigrante asentado', sin gran parte de sus derechos actuales. A la vez ignora por completo las propuestas detalladas de la Comisión Europea que garantizan casi en su totalidad los derechos de la ciudadanía europea para los británicos en la UE. Las reacciones a la 'generosa oferta' han sido muy negativas y Donald Tusk ha señalado que las propuestas 'pueden dañar los esfuerzos de la UE para proteger a los británicos en la la UE'. En otras palabras, el gobierno de Gran Bretaña está buscando de forma activa reducir los derechos de sus propios ciudadanos.

La principal propuesta del gobierno es que los europeos que estén residente antes de una fecha para acordar (entre 2017 y 2019) puedan solicitar el estatus de 'inmigrante asentado' y así no tener que abandonar el país u obtener un permiso de trabajo. Después del 29 de marzo del 2019 habrá un periodo de transición de dos años para facilitar este proceso. Sin embargo, los 150.000 europeos que ya han pasado el complejo y costoso proceso de solicitud de la 'Residencia Permanente' tendrán que repetirlo.

Un 'inmigrante asentado' no es lo mismo que un ciudadano y la propuesta de May resultará en la pérdida de muchos derechos y beneficios. Lo más positivo de la propuesta es la garantía de una actualización automática en las pensiones para los pensionistas británicos, algo que no tiene que ver con la negociación. En términos de los beneficios sociales, las pensiones agregadas y la cobertura médica, el gobierno británico 'intentará mantener' la situación actual, pero no explica cómo. Cambiar el actual marco europeo por uno nuevo será una tarea muy compleja. 

¿Qué significa esta oferta para los derechos de los británicos en la UE dado que cualquier acuerdo tiene que ser recíproco? Primero, perderemos el actual derecho de la reunificación familiar, de traer a nuestros familiares enfermos o mayores para vivir con nosostros o de llevar a nuestros esposos e hijos al Reino Unido. Segundo, a partir de 2019, perderemos la posibilidad de pagar las tasas universarias como británicos y recibir un apoyo financiero. Tercero, si estamos fuera de nuestro país de residencia por más de tres años, perderemos todos nuestros derechos como 'inmigrante asentado'. Además perderemos nuestos derechos políticos y el derecho a la no-discriminación que garantiza el Tribunal Europeo. Otros temas como la convalidación de títulos y el derecho a montar negocios quedan menos claros.

Finalmente, el gobierno del RU rechaza de forma tajante el papel del Tribunal Europeo de Justicia en Luxemburgo en la aplicación de un acuerdo, algo que complicará las negociaciones sobre la ciudadanía. A pesar del peligro de que el RU salga de la Unión sin un acuerdo, el gobierno no propone separar o blindar los derechos de los ciudadanos.

En conclusión, la oferta de Theresa May es la mínima posible y muy por debajo de las propuestas de la Comisión Europea. Es muy decepcionante para los ciudadanos británicos en España después de un largo año de ansiedad e incertidumbre sobre nuestro futuro.

lunes, 26 de junio de 2017

MAY'S OFFER ON CITIZENS' RIGHTS: FROM CITIZENS TO IMMIGRANTS

The UK government has waited a year to offer EU nationals living in the UK a deal which effectively demotes their status from that of 'EU citizens' to that of 'settled immigrants'. At the same time it ignores the detailed EU Commission proposals for the virtually full maintenance of existing EU citizenship rights. As Donald Tusk has pointed out, the British proposals 'may damage the EU's efforts to protect UK citizens in the EU'. In other words, as any deal must be reciprocal, the UK government seems to be actively seeking the reduction of rights for its own citizens who currently live in the European Union.

The government's central offer is that EU citizens resident in Britain before a cut-off date (to be negotiated) will be able to apply for 'settled status', so they will not have to leave the country or apply for work permits. There will be a two-year transitional period of grace after Brexit to enable this to happen. However, even though EU nationals have already gone through the costly and arduous process to get 'Permanent Residence', they will have to repeat this all over again with a new application procedure, which the government promises will not to be as complex and rigorous. 

'Settled status' is not the same as citizenship. If May's proposal were to be applied to both those EU and UK nationals affected (and any agreement must be reciprocal), it would mean the loss of many rights and benefits. In terms of the latter, the government talks about 'seeking to protect' existing arrangements on benefits and healthcare coverage, but with no information as to how. Their only positive move is their promise to automatically uprate UK pensions in the EU and to allow the export of benefits from the UK to the EU, which might allow the continuation of aggregated pensions.

What would this mean for the rights of UK nationals in the EU? Firstly, we would lose the right to bring sick and elderly relations to live with us, or to take non-UK family members back to the UK. Secondly, after 2019 we would lose the right to 'home fees' and 'student support' that Britons resident in the EU are entitled to. Thirdly, if we are out of our country of residence for more than two years, we would automatically lose all our residency rights. Amongst other things this would endanger our ability to go and live in another EU country. There are some important citizenship rights that we would definitely lose such as the right to non-discrimination versus nationals and all of our political rights. The UK government 'seeks to protect' but does not guarantee other rights such as that to be self-employed or set up a business. After 2019 it also appears that the existing mutual recognition of qualifications will no longer continue. 

Finally, the UK government rejects any role of the European Court of Justice in implementing an agreement. This issue will certainly complicate the negotiations on citizens' rights, which the UK government does not propose to separate or 'ring-fence' from other negotiations on trade. Any breakdown in negotiations would thus mean a cliff-edge for citizens.

In conclusion, this is a mean-spirited offer, the minimum which the UK government could have offered and well below what the EU Commission has already proposed. 


Comments on the offer:


Corybn:“This isn’t a generous offer. This is confirmation the government is prepared to use people as bargaining chips."

​​Brake (LibDems): “Theresa May should be utterly ashamed this is the best they can come up with, a year on. It offers little in the way of reassurance to EU citizens who have made Britain their home and continues to use them as bargaining chips. These people play by the rules, pay taxes and make Britain what it is. Theresa May is treating these people like dirt and we should unilaterally guarantee these people’s right to stay."See quotes and other comments in Guardian article 


Another article quotes the 3Million on this: "
Hatton said the offer fell far short of the proposal placed on the table by the EU a fortnight ago to protect the rights of Britons in the EU.

“We are bitterly disappointed. It does not feel like a finished document. It does not feel like the EU document, which is definitive and authoritative,” said Hatton.

domingo, 25 de junio de 2017

'MÚSICA SIN FRONTERAS' CONCERT A BIG SUCCESS

Photos: Lawrence Baron
The EuroCitizens concert, 'Música sin Fronteras', was held in Sala El Sol on Saturday 24 June to increase awareness of citizens' rights and the potential difficulties facing musicians after Brexit. A Saturday night in Madrid in June is full of competition, and last Saturday the big Download Festival was going on. Despite that, we got a large audience to see Rob Picazo, Alex Roddom and John Grvy. They were not disappointed.

All three artists got the crowd going with very different styles. 

Rob Picazo started off with fifty minutes of blues numbers which he composed himself. Rob's voice is remarkable: he sounds like an experienced and gritty bluesman of the Deep South, giving his songs great feeling and verve. Halfway through his set, his excellent rhythm session was changed for the drummer and bass player of the mythical rock group from the 'movida madrileña' Gabinete Caligari.

Next on was Alex Roddom and his band with a medley of his own numbers plus a barn-storming performance of Freefalling by Tom Petty. Alex has a spectacular voice and powerful songs that got the audience dancing and left us wanting more. You can listen to his latest album, The Other Side, on Spotify.

The concert ended in style with the versatile artist John Grvy. Alone on stage with his computer, this madrileño captivated the audience with his charismatic personality, fine voice and spectacular dancing. His high-octane peformance and punchy electronic music was a fitting finale to nearly three hours of great music.

EuroCitizens would like to thank all the artists who performed and the technicians of Sala El Sol for giving us such a great night of music and for helping us to make people aware of citizens' rights and the need for freedom of movement for musicians.

 Photos: Lawrence Baron