Category Archives: EU Level

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.

 

Davis meets Bavarian Minister-President for closed talks

British in Munich group protest outside talks

[Scroll down for German version / Siehe unten für deutsche Fassung]

Brits in Bavaria protest outside Davis’ meeting with Seehofer. Photo: Rob Harrison.

A group of about 20 Brits gathered in the pouring rain outside the Bavarian State Chancellery in Munich yesterday (July 26) to express our dissatisfaction about the Brexit negotiations. Inside were Bavaria´s Minister-President Horst Seehofer and David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the EU. What was on the agenda is not known – the press had not been invited and no statement was issued. And the meeting was only announced very shortly before it took place, so the Brits in Munich had little time to get a protest together. The message on their quickly produced posters: Talk to us! Save our EU rights! The UK and EU flags, flying together in the wind, spoke their own language.

Brits in Europe – our concerns in a nutshell. Who is listening? Photo: Rob Harrison.

 

Disenfranchisement: Perhaps the No. 1 irritant for Brits abroad. And still no solution in sight. Photo: Rob Harrison

 

British in Bavaria sending a message in semaphore to Seehofer and Davis as they meet in the Bavarian State Chancellery on July 26, 2017. Photo: Rob Harrison.

Over 18,000 Brits live and work in Bavaria, and so far there has been very little consultation with us, from either the UK or the German authorities on our concerns as regards Brexit. We would welcome an opportunity – in the dry – to present our views in person.

Minister-President of Bavaria, Horst Seehofer, presents David Davis with a porcelain white lion on the occasion of his visit to Munich on 26 July 2017. Photo: Bayerische Staatskanzlei.

Bei strömendem Regen versammelte sich eine Gruppe von bis zu 20 Briten gestern vor der bayerischen Staatskanzlei, um ihrem Unmut über die Brexitverhandlungen Luft zu lassen. Drinnen saßen Ministerpräsident Seehofer und David Davis, Britischer Minister für den Austritt Großbritanniens aus der EU, zu einem nicht öffentlichen und sehr kurzfristig angekündigten Besuch. Die Botschaft auf den Plakaten der versammelten britischen Bürger in Bayern: Reden Sie mit uns! 18.000 Briten leben und arbeiten in Bayern, und sie sehen ihre EU-Rechte in Gefahr. Die hoch gehaltenen Flaggen sprachen eine unmißverständliche Sprache – sie wollen in der EU bleiben. Die Gruppe erweckte die Aufmerksamkeit der vielen vorbeifahrenden Autofahrer, die ihre Unterstützung mit lautem Hupen signalisierten. Der Gast aus Westminster und der Ministerpräsident haben den Protest sicherlich auch bemerkt, und die Briten hoffen nun auf eine baldige Einladung ins Trockene, wo sie ihre Sorgen und Ängste näher besprechen können.

 

 

Plan To Fast-Track Associate EU Citizenship Proposal

The BBC on 9 December 2016 reported statements by Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator , that the Associate EU citizenship proposal would be fast-tracked and would be on the table as part of the Brexit negotiations between the EU and the UK (see BBC coverage).  However, some experts in Brussels have since  argued that the proposal is unlikely to progress as citizenship rights for citizens of a non-EU country would require Treaty change (see The Guardian coverage).

Associate EU Citizenship Proposal

Charles Goerens, MEP for the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats Group in the European Parliament,  has tabled an amendment to a Parliament report on the future institutional set up of the European Union, calling for the establishment of a European associate citizenship for those who feel and wish to be part of the European project, but are nationals of a former member state.  See Charles Goerens’ blog  here and his twitter feed with updates. 

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President Schulz takes representations from New Europeans on behalf of EU citizens in the UK and Brits abroad

Speaking on behalf of New Europeans, Roger Casale, Founder and CEO said:

“It is essential that the position of EU citizens in Britain and Brits living in other EU member states is sorted out before Article 50 is triggered and Brexit negotiations begin. We live in the twenty-first century not the interwar period when governments bartered the rights of whole population groups. Even if the legal position is that the rights of EU citizens are not considered to be acquired rights under the Vienna convention, there can be no doubt that from a moral and political point of view, the UK government and the EU institutions and member states should recognise them as such and move swiftly to put the necessary legal safeguards in place. As far as the status of EU citizens and Brits who relocate post the 23 June vote, New Europeans and others will continue to campaign for the right to free movement to be maintained in any Brexit deal.”

See full text of letter to President Schulz here