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.