lunes, 24 de abril de 2017

21/04: EUROCITIZENS MEETS MEP BEATRIZ BECERRA IN MADRID

Camilla Hillier-Fry (EuroCitizens) and Beatriz Becerra MEP (ALDE)
   Last Friday 21 April, EuroCitizens met Beatriz Becerra, MEP (ALDE) and member of the European Parliament task force for Brexit. We had a productive meeting in which we shared information and identified how we can work to help each other. Beatriz is also in close contact with The3Million and Españoles en el Reino Unido.
   The European Parliament task force is made up of various MEPs, from the UK, Spain and other countries, though they emphasise that their duty is to represent all European citizens and defend their rights. The EP task force has reported infractions of European citizens’ rights and discrimination by the UK government and has a newsletter which you can subscribe to by sending a mail to eucitizenstaskforce@gmail.com.
   Two key events organised by the Brexit task force are happening in May, and we have been invited (along with British in Europe, the pan-European association we work with) to participate if possible:
   On 11 May there is a EU citizens hearing in the European Parliament, organised by the commissions of Employment, Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs and Petitions. The hearing will be streamed, nevertheless there will be the opportunity for members of the public to ask questions.
   On 23 May the Spanish MEP is visiting London. Beatriz Becerra will be travelling by EuroStar to London and meeting with Liberal Democrats, the Spanish Chamber of Commerce and Españoles en el Reino Unido (and the Spanish Ambassador the next day).

jueves, 20 de abril de 2017

'BRITISH IN EUROPE' GROUPS MEET UK GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES IN ALICANTE

After the meeting in Alicante Photo: Europats
Early on Wednesday morning, several of the groups in the British in Europe coalition met with high-level government representatives in the British Embassy in Madrid, including Spanish associations Bremain, ECREU and EuroCitizens. This was followed by an afternoon meeting between UK officials and local groups and citizens in Alicante, attended by representatives of two coalition members, ECREU and Europats.
The issues dealt with were as follows: reciprocal healthcare; the automatic updating of UK state pensions; aggregated pensions (for people who have worked in different EU countries); the freedom of movement after Brexit; the mutual recognition of qualifications; the recognition of wills; the possibility of EU citizenship; votes for life for disenfranchised UK nationals abroad; dual nationality for Britons in Spain; residency issues and passports; the future of political rights for UK nationals in Spain.

Government representatives were optimistic about obtaining Votes for Life, but that this would take time and not be ready for the next election. They underlined that they were committed to helping UK citizens retain their existing rights and that both the Spanish and British governments had citizens' rights as their number one priority.

REUNIÓN EN MADRID ENTRE LA COALICIÓN DE BRITÁNICOS EN LA UE Y EL GOBIERNO DEL REINO UNIDO

Representantes de la coalición de británicos en la UE después de la reunión
La coalición más grande de británicos en Europa se reúne en Madrid con representantes del gobierno británico para hablar de los problemas y derechos de más de 4 millones de ciudadanos afectados por el Brexit


La coalición de "British in Europe", que agrupa a una docena de asociaciones de ciudadanos de toda Europa, se ha reunido este miércoles en Madrid con representantes del más alto nivel del gobierno británico para tratar los "derechos posBrexit" de los 1,2 millones de ciudadanos de su país que viven en la Unión Europa. EuroCitizens Spain forma parte de esta coalición.

La coalición - que es la más grande de su naturaleza en Europa - informó al gobierno de las dificultades que sufren tanto europeos en el Reino Unido como británicos en Europa, y exigió que se respetasen los derechos actuales; la agrupación está presentando "casos reales" que ilustran el factor humano del conjunto indivisible de derechos de los que gozan los ciudadanos europeos.

"British in Europe" pide al gobierno británico - igual que a otros gobiernos de países de la Unión Europea - que respete los principios fundamentales del Libro Blanco Alternativo, lo que implica dar prioridad absoluta a las personas y llegar un acuerdo para que "la salida de la Unión Europea por parte del Reino Unido no tenga efectos retroactivos sobre las personas" y que "todos los ciudadanos británicos que residen en la Unión Europea así como los 3 millones de ciudadanos europeos que viven en el Reino Unido mantengan los mismos derechos que tenían antes del Brexit".

Otro objetivo para la coalición es convencer al equipo negociador de la Unión Europea y los gobiernos de los países miembros para acceder a un acuerdo que salveguarde los derechos de los tres millones de ciudadanos europeos que viven en el Reino Unido, además de los británicos en Europa, independientemente de otros aspectos sujetos a negociación. Si no fuera así, según la coalición "las personas seríamos los rehenes de la negociación, ni más ni menos que moneda de cambio".

miércoles, 19 de abril de 2017

MADRID MEETING BETWEEN CITIZEN GROUPS AND HIGH-LEVEL UK GOVERNMENT REPRESENTATIVES

Representatives of the UK citizen groups after the meeting
EuroCitizens is a member of British in Europe, a coalition of a dozen citizen groups of UK nationals throughout the EU. The coalition is pleased to have had high-level contact with the UK government to discuss the post-Brexit rights of more than one million UK citizens living in the EU. At a meeting in Madrid on Wednesday 19 April, British in Europe representatives informed the government of the difficulties faced by many people as a result of Brexit and urged it to support our call for all current rights to be conserved. 
 
We will continue to exchange information and put forward case studies that illustrate the extremely complex and intertwined nature of the rights we currently enjoy. We were very pleased to have opened what should now become a constant dialogue between the government and the largest coalition of UK citizens groups in the EU.
British in Europe urged the government to abide by the governing principle contained in our Alternative White Paper, which asks all sides in the upcoming negotiations to first agree that “the UK’s withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals” and that “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 also called on the government to explicitly promise UK pensioners living in the EU that those pensions will continue to be updated after Brexit. This is a unilateral matter for the UK government and we are hopeful that it will soon publicly state its position on this matter. Hundreds of thousands of UK pensioners have been left to worry about this for too long. We will also be increasing pressure on EU negotiators and governments to change their position so that an agreement on our rights – and those of 3 million EU citizens in the UK – can be ring-fenced and will stand if there is no wider agreement. Refusal to go down this road amounts to using us all as bargaining chips.
With elections now on the horizon, British in Europe is calling for all parties to include the governing principle for Brexit negotiations in their manifestos. This reads: “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. This is not confined to a right of continued residence but extends to all related rights such as the acquisition of citizenship, the right to continue to work, whether employed or self-employed, or run a business, recognition of qualifications, right to study, right of equal treatment, right to move between and work freely across all EU countries without loss or change of any existing EU rights, the right to healthcare, pensions, social benefits/social assistance etc. In short, the full complex of indivisible EU citizenship rights that they currently have should be guaranteed for these individuals.”

jueves, 6 de abril de 2017

EUROCITIZENS MEETING (01/04/17): 'THE NEXT FEW MONTHS WILL BE CRUCIAL FOR OUR CITIZENSHIP RIGHTS'

EuroCitizens meeting  (TeleMadrid)
On Saturday 1 April, EuroCitizens held its monthly meeting in the Centro Gallego in Madrid. This time we had TV cameras present (TeleMadrid) and a journalist and photographers from a newspaper (El Independiente). This press interest was indicative of how quickly we have advanced in the last few weeks from a position of relative obscurity. Now we are firmly on the media map as a group and in a position to make our voice heard loud and clear.
    First, there was a brief report on our recent activities, in particular the Round Table we organised at the European Parliament offices on 8 March and the pro-European demonstration which we took part in on 25 March in Madrid. Both events were evaluated positively by members and have sparked off a series of interviews with TV, radio and newspaper journalists both in Spain and abroad. We also gave feedback about the meeting between EuroCitizens and a top Brexit official, Chris Jones, Director of Migration and Security. We got an idea of UK governent strategy, but no clear answers were given to our questions. The participation of the group at a conference of union leaders in Valladolid was also mentioned. Finally, there was a run-through of our growing links with other groups of UK nationals in Spain, Españoles en el Reino Unido and the pan-European platform British in Europe.    Our treasurer gave a quick summary of our financial position and what we have been spending money on. The principal costs were incurred for the Round Table (technical back-up, filming etc) and the CRM registration and membership system which ensures data privacy. Thanks to the generous response of our members to our plea for donations, we have 1,444 euros in the kitty. The group currently has four hundred members, plus supporters.   In the coming few months, we will continue lobbying Westminster and London via the umbrella platform British in Europe. We will be also seeking to contact Spanish administrations at different levels (national governnment/Comunidad de Madrid/Ayto. de Madrid). We already have a meeting programmed with a senior PP diputado after Easter and in May EuroCitizens will be giving evidence to the Brexit committee of the Congreso de los Diputados.   
  We then moved on to proposals. One was to set up a closed Facebook group, where members can exchange information and opinions. The need for moderation and guidelines was highlighted. Another idea was to produce short videos of people talking about their Brexit concerns (cost 200/300 euros). We have decided to postpone the round table on education until October to fit in better with university and school calendars and give us time to organise it properly, including all major stakeholders (universities, British schools, language academies). We also agreed to organise a fundraising event at the end of June (possibly the 23/24 which is the anniversary of the referendum. Someone with a street theatre offered to do something as did a music producer who can help to organise a concert. The possibility of a debate involving young people affected by Brexit was mooted for the end of April.    We finished off with a call for volunteers. We have had a good response over the last two months, demonstrated by the great team which organised the event at the European Parliament offices. But we still need more people as our commitments grow. If you can give some of your time, however little, please get in touch with us. In May/June negotiations will start between the UK and the EU and the next few months will be crucial in terms of maintaining our EU citizenship rights. 















 

jueves, 30 de marzo de 2017

NEWSLETTER 31/03/17: FIGHTING FOR OUR RIGHTS AS THE CLOCK TICKS.....

EuroCitizens demonstrating last week
   Tomorrow we are holding the 6th group meeting of EuroCitizens (1 April, 12h: Centro Gallego, C/ Carretas, 14, Metro Sol). Since our last get-together on 18 February (more information), we have been very busy.   
    On 22 February two of our members attended a working lunch organised by the European Movement and explained to a select group of politicians, lawyers, economists and journalists our objectives and how both UK nationals and Spanish citizens were being used as bargaining capital in post-Brexit Britain (more information). This proved an excellent springboard which put us on the map in terms of the press and gave us useful contacts.   During this period we cooperated with a coalition of UK nationals British in Europe to produce an Alternative White Paper on citizens' rights and to carry out intensive lobbying of MPs and Lords (and Ladies) at Westminster. Unfortunately, our initially successful efforts were thwarted by the government's hardline Brexit agenda.
    Over the last few weeks we have also had further contact with British officialdom. A meeting was held with the director of consular services and four EuroCitizens, in which we expressed our concerns about the possible impact of Brexit on our lives (more information). In another meeting with a top civil servant in the Brexit department, we asked questions about UK government policy and what was going to happen to us. Unfortunately, we did not receive any clear answers.
    Our first big event as a group was a round table in the offices of the European Parliament on 8 March (more information). This gave us the opportunity to communicate our demands: the full maintenance of existing citizenship rights for both Spanish and British citizens affected by Brexit. In the round table, politicians like José Montilla and Enrique Guerrero and experts like Robert Robinson and Ralph Smith analysed the potential impact of Brexit on citizens. Vanesa López Román from Españoles en el Reino Unido gave the point of view of Spaniards in the UK. The event was well reported in the Spanish press.
   On Saturday 25 March we participated in a demonstration in Madrid to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the Treaty of Rome. There was a good turnout of EuroCitizens, complete with banners and some imaginative face painting. We proved that we can get out on the streets and stridently put forward our point of view! (more information / photos on Facebook). On Monday 27 March a representative of EuroCitizens took part in a round table of trade unionists (Spanish and European) in Valladolid. Our demands were received sympathetically by union leaders like Ignacio Fdez Toxo (CCOO) and Pepe Álvarez (UGT) (more information).
    During the week of the activation of Clause 50 we have been involved in frenetic media activity and have appeared in national newspapers and TV programmes. In the last few weeks, we have also intensified our activity on social media. The figures for our blog are illuminating: January - 2,300 hits; February - 14,000 hits; March - 61,000 hits.
    Without doubt, we have achieved our initial objectives in terms of making our voice heard both in Spain and the UK. Now we need to carefully consider our next steps. The next few months will be crucial in determining what kind of package is offered to UK and Spanish citizens after Brexit.
   And remember, we want to keep ALL our existing EU citizenship rights!

martes, 28 de marzo de 2017

LA ACTIVACIÓN DE LA CLÁUSULA 50: ¿CUÁNDO TERMINARÁ LA INCERTIDUMBRE PARA LOS CIUDADANOS AFECTADOS POR EL BREXIT?

La cláusula 50, 1: 'cualquier estado puede decidir salir de la Unión....'
  Hoy el gobierno británico activa la Claúsula 50 para comenzar la salida del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea. Para EuroCitizens es un día triste, especialmente porque la mayoría de nuestros miembros no pudieron votar en el referéndum por llevar más de quince años fuera del país. Sin embargo, nuestros esfuerzos no están dirigidos a revertir el resultado de esa polémica consulta sino a luchar por los derechos de la ciudadanía británica y española afectada por el Brexit.
  Desde el 24 de junio del año pasado, el futuro de estos ciudadanos se ha convertido en incierto; no sabemos que pasará con nuestros trabajos, estudios, pensiones, cobertura sanitaria y, en algunos casos dramáticos, nuestras familias. Nos hemos convertido en rehenes, ‘capital’ para utilizar como palanca en las negociaciones segun un ministro del Brexit. Y si el gobierno británico sale de la UE sin acuerdo, como amenaza Theresa May, todos nuestros derechos europeos se extinguirán de golpe.
  Varias veces la primera ministra ha prometido ‘garantizar’ los derechos de los europeos en el Reino Unido y así los derechos de los británicos en Europa. Sin embargo, en nuestras reuniones con dos ministerios británicos no hemos conseguido respuestas a nuestras preguntas: ¿Mantendremos nuestra ciudadanía europea?, ¿Qué derechos vamos a conservar y cuáles perderemos?, ¿Cuáles son los plazos para las negociaciones? ¿Comenzarán solo después de solucionar el problema de la ‘factura de divorcio’? ¿Qué mecanismos garantizarán la aplicación de un acuerdo sobre la ciudadanía?
  Hasta que se formalice un acuerdo que garantice los derechos de los más de cuatro millones de ciudadanos del Reino Unido y otros países europeos, EuroCitizens luchará para reducir el coste humano del Brexit. En las negociaciones
entre la Comisión y el gobierno de Theresa May que arrancan a partir de hoy, las personas deben ser lo más importante.