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:


Review of Negotiations to date   (British in Europe)

There is a serious risk of a political stitch-up in December, where progress falling well short of protecting our rights is certified by the EU to be “sufficient”, just so that the sides can move on to discussing trade.  If that happens and Citizens Rights are discussed in parallel with trade and other matters, we will be bargaining chips in the full sense of that term.  So it is vital to avoid that, and for the same reasons any agreement which is made now must be ring-fenced to prevent it being revisited as part of the trade negotiations.
Why is there no deal yet?
Each side has said that Brexit should not alter people’s daily lives but the negotiations are far from achieving that.
The EU made the first offer – a principled proposal on its face protecting our existing rights. If the UK had simply accepted this offer, the negotiations would have gone on to clarify the detail and we believe that a deal would have been done by now.
But the UK did not accept:  they made their own offer some weeks later which did not even refer to the EU’s. By making a low offer knowing they would have to raise it, they showed that they saw Citizens Rights as a matter for standard commercial negotiation. They have since made a number of concessions, but they still have a long way to go.  Unfortunately, the EU’s reaction to this approach appears to us to have been to harden its line, as we show below.
 Stumbling blocks for the EU27
They drew a flawed distinction between the rights of citizens who have already moved and the future relationship between the UK and the EU.   This led them to refuse to discuss the position of present posted workers, to cut off at Brexit the freedom of movement rights of UK citizens now in the EU, including to work, and to limit dramatically the recognition of professional qualifications upon which people already depend to earn their living, as well as the scope of economic rights.  This was a surprise to us all as the EU Negotiating Directives, amended after discussions between BiE/t3m and the EU, promised to preserve our rights of free movement.
They have been inflexible about modifying the application of their laws to those affected by the unprecedented circumstance of a Member State leaving the Union.   They will not relax the 2-year rule under which a person with permanent residence in a State loses that right if s/he is absent for two years. It seems the UK offered to grant an unlimited right to return to EU citizens in the UK in exchange for freedom of movement for UK citizens within the WA,  – if this is confirmed, it should be accepted immediately.
Stumbling blocks for the UK
First, the UK refuses to accept the simple continuation of the existing system of EU residence rights and insists on requiring EU nationals to be brought under UK immigration law where ‘leave to remain’ is granted to ‘applicants’. This is fundamentally different to the concept of citizens’ rights in the EU and would confer on EuinUK much less protection.
They insist that this is because “the UK will no longer be subject to EU law”, but they are happy for this to happen where convenient, having said from the outset “the UK will seek to protect the healthcare arrangements currently set out in EU Regulations and domestic law.”  Moreover, it is the approach of the Government’s EU (Withdrawal) Bill to continue to apply existing EU law save where it is specifically disapplied.
Second is the argument, used to justify a restriction on the right to bring an ageing relative to live with one and the right to bring a future spouse, that the rights of EU citizens in the UK should be no better than those of UK citizens.  The flaw in this argument is that the ageing relatives of most UK citizens in the UK live in the same country and the majority marry fellow-nationals.  So there are no restrictions on them.
 British in Europe and the3million’s road map to ensuring Citizens Rights by December:
  • Agree a workable alternative to ‘settled status’ in UK by accepting the3million’s proposals in their paper entitled “The alternative to current proposals for EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit.”
  • Confirm a solution on free movement and the 2-year rule providing reciprocity in practice: an agreement should be made conceding continuing free movement rights to reside and work across the EU 27 for UKinEU in exchange for a lifelong right to return to the UK for EuinUK. The UK also needs to relax the rules restricting the family members UKinEU can bring with them if they decide to return to the UK.
  • Professional qualifications: mutual recognition of qualifications should be confined to those who have been residing or frontier-working away from their country of origin at Brexit but otherwise should not be restricted to the country of residence, work or individual recognition-decision; recognition of professional qualifications, whether generic or individual-specific, should apply across the EU28 and a professional who has practised under his/her home title should continue to be allowed to do so. Degrees obtained post-Brexit by EU27 students in the UK and vice-versa (including GB passport holders who have lived in the EU27 and vice versa) should be recognised.
  • Economic rights: Again, economic rights such as the right of establishment as a self-employed person or to run a business should continue to apply across the EU for those who are exercising freedom of movement pre-Brexit.
  • Voting rights: a right to vote in local and European Parliamentary elections is an essential aspect of the right to live in a democratic country and the EU should concede it.
  • Export of benefits: the UK should not limit the right to export benefits to those currently being exported (pensions and health benefits of course excepted as agreement has been reached on these).
  • Children born to citizens after Brexit should have life-long rights; however, these cannot be passed on to future generations.
 Have the talks been a total failure?  No.   A number of important points have been agreed so far, including confirmed rights of residence in the country where they are living for all those living legally (ie in accordance with EU Treaty rights) at Brexit; confirmed rights to work or be self-employed in the country where one is working at Brexit (except for posted workers); some recognition of professional qualifications; the S1 reciprocal healthcare arrangements for pensioners and others on certain benefits to continue; UK pensioners in the EU to continue to receive inflation increases; and past and future pension contributions by those who have worked in various EU countries to continue to be aggregated..  However, unfortunately those for whom these are the most important issues cannot relax yet because they are all conditional on an overall agreement being reached.  If that does not happen, we are back to square one.
Read our full, detailed reasoning view the pdf here which has been sent to both sides of the negotiations


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