Category Archives: British in Europe

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Written Evidence to HoL. Committee

Following Jane Golding’s oral evidence to the House of Lords EU  committee, follow-up evidence on the effect of No Deal has been submitted to the inquiry.

Read in full the  House of Lords Written Evidence

CONCLUSIONS

25. Given all the above, in our view, there is no clear and comprehensive legal solution to the issues faced by British citizens residing in the EU or EU citizens in the UK without a deal between the EU and the UK, agreeing the principles on which the exiting rights of these citizens should be safeguarded, and setting out the detail in the Withdrawal Agreement.

26. Any default position under a mixture of EU, national, European (European Convention on Human Rights) and international law would be an imperfect and patchwork solution and lead to years of
practical problems for more than 4.2 million British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK who moved pre-Brexit to other EU countries in good faith and with the legitimate expectation that their EU citizenship rights were irrevocable.

27. Moreover, such a solution would also be impractical and create difficulties for both the UK and other EU countries as regards its implementation, entailing an unsatisfactory piecemeal approach to the position of former EU citizens already resident, sometimes far longer than five years, in their countries.

28. It is the current intention of the EU and the UK at this stage in the negotiations to set out in detail any deal that they reach as regards safeguarding citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement, thus giving these provisions treaty status and force of international law. However, the negotiators need to go further and definitively agree that the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement would have direct effect in national law, and also agree which international dispute resolution body will have jurisdiction as regards these rights. This could of course be the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), given that the rights in question derive from EU law, and to ensure consistency of interpretation of the rights of both groups of citizens in the UK and EU 27 going forward. In the event that it is not the CJEU, a body fulfilling the same conditions should be chosen.

29. “No Deal” is an ambiguous term in connection with citizens’ rights. It could mean that the UK and the EU are unable to agree on anything, or it could mean that, whilst they are agreed on citizens’ rights, they have failed to reach agreement on other matters and conclude that there is “no deal”. It is essential to ensure that, provided there is an agreement at least on citizens’ rights, we are not in a no deal situation. The UK and EU can do this by ensuring that any agreement on citizens’ rights is ring-fenced from the rest of the negotiations. Currently, in order to reach sufficient progress in the negotiations, the three priority areas in the negotiations are
being linked. This means that matters and compromises that have direct repercussions for the
lives of real people are being mixed up with the discussions as regards the financial settlement and the Irish border. There is no way of avoiding the conclusion that citizens and their rights are
being used as bargaining chips in these negotiations. Unless and until citizens’ rights are ringfenced from the rest of the negotiations, this position will not change.

30. There is also the concern that citizens’ rights may be the only area in which it may be possible to reach sufficient progress by December, the date of the next European Council meeting. In that
case, it may be that the negotiators will seek to make compromises that will limit the extent to which existing rights are guaranteed. Conversely, it may simply mean that the bar is lowered and that, even if fundamental issues concerning citizens’ rights still remain to be agreed, the UK and EU will conclude that “sufficient progress” on citizens’ rights has nonetheless been reached. It would be fundamentally unjust for the 4-5 million people who have relied in good faith on their rights with the legitimate expectation that they were irrevocable if any such compromises were to be made.

31. In conclusion and given what is set out above, on citizens’ rights, the repercussions of a no deal are serious – and exclusively negative for the lives of between 4-5 million people who have moved across the Channel in reliance of their existing rights as EU citizens.

 

BiE Publications

The February 2018 BiE Newsletter is here
BiE on Facebook and Twitter.

Over the last year, British in Europe has produced a number of papers and publications that have been widely circulated to members of the House of Commons and the House of Lords, as well as to the European Commission and members of the European Parliament.

Here are a few latest examples:

Where does the December agreement leave me?

Review of Brexit Negotiations to date

Brexit Negotiations Review. Nov 2017 view the pdf here which has been sent to both sides of the negotiations.

Response of British in Europe to the 5th Round of Negotiations Released 12.10.17

Response of British in Europe to Theresa May’s Florence speech of 22nd September 2017.   Released 22.09.17

Response of British in Europe and the3million to the third round of negotiations. Published on 6 September 2017. https://tinyurl.com/Response3rdRound

Annex to Addendum on free movement and cross border working: case studies. While the Addendum represents our legal arguments, the Annex presents the human aspect of free movement and cross-border working, and examines how the EU proposals could impact real lives. The Annex comprises a series of case studies, which illustrate the rich and varied cross-border working lives of British citizens in the EU. https://tinyurl.com/AnnexCaseStudies

Addendum to our response to the second round of negotiations. On 22 August 2017 we published an Addendum to our main response to round to, focusing particularly in our serious concerns on the EU position on freedom of movement for UK citizens in the EU, including the potential impact of this on cross-border working. https://tinyurl.com/Addendum2ndRound

Response of British in Europe and the3million to the second round of negotiations. Published on 2 August 2017. https://tinyurl.com/Response2ndRound

Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU: a Joint Response to the UK’s Proposal. On 1 July 2017 we published our response to the UK proposals on citizens’ rights. https://tinyurl.com/ResponseUKProposals

Comments by BiE and the3million on EU Negotiating Guidelines plus Commission Recommendation and directives. On 8 May 2017, British in Europe and the3million published our comments on the Negotiating Guidelines plus the Commission Recommendation and directives that were adopted by the European Council on 29th April. It is worth noting that our most serious reservation was the lack of any proposal to ring-fence the agreement on citizens’ rights – an omission which still has not been addressed.  https://tinyurl.com/CommentsNegotGuidelines

‘UK Citizens in Europe – Towards an Alternative White Paper’.  Published on 1 February 2017 to coincide with the government’s White Paper on Brexit, our first publication set out clear concerns about being able to live, work, run a business or study in the European countries where many have made lives for themselves and their families. https://tinyurl.com/AltWhitePaper

 

Latest Brexit Negotiation Review

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.

 

Case Studies

(Aug 29, 2017) ***Note recently added case studies on Freedom of Movement and Cross Border Working relating to our Addendum to Round 2 of the Brexit Negotiations.

Here you can read detailed case studies of everyday British citizens living and working across Europe, who have agreed to kindly share their concerns about Brexit.

We have split them up into groups of different rights to show the complexity and the number of issues that need to be dealt with in  the forthcoming negotiations.  The rights are listed as follows:

Right to Remain, Mutual Recognition of Qualifications, Right to Work,  Rights of Economically Inactive People, Rights of Establishment and Right to Work, Mutual Recognition of Qualifications, Right to Work,  Right to Study, Work and Move Freely,  Access to Cross Border Working and Living, Family Reunification and Healthcare, Higher Education.

Open the case studies file here: BiE Case Studies June 2017

***In light of Round 2 of the Brexit negotiations British in Europe and the3million have added case studies relating to freedom of movement and cross border working, due to their concern that these issues are not been given the attention they need.   Read these added case studies here

If you want to get hold of any of the people on the case studies, please write to us here and we can ask the people concerned if they would like to be in touch

*Those marked with an asterisk are not using their real names.

Wayne – Plumber

Wayne, 45 years old, is a British plumber living and working in Europe.  Wayne speaks fluent Dutch which helps him get decent jobs from the Dutch as well as the Flemish speaking Belgians.  He also has a lot of English speaking customers as there are over 1.2 million Brits living across Europe.

To hear more about how Brexit will affect Wayne’s life contact us here

*These photographs of everyday Brits in Europe are part of a collaboration with the photographer Charlie Clift and his acclaimed exhibition Brits in Europe.  For further information go to BritsinEurope.com