miércoles, 13 de diciembre de 2017

SPANISH FOREIGN MINISTER DASTIS MEETS REPRESENTATIVES OF 500,000 SPANIARDS AND BRITONS AFFECTED BY BREXIT

On Tuesday 12 December, various associations (the3million, Españoles en el Reino Unido, EuroCitizens and British in Europe) met the Spanish foreign minister in Madrid. Alfonso Dastis and his team listened to the concerns of these groups that represent many of the 300,000 Britons in Spain and 200,000 Spaniards in the UK and there was a frank and fruitful discussion.

Camilla Hillier-Fry (EuroCitizens) highlighted the disappointment of citizens after the provisional agreement between the UK and the EU on 8 December left outstanding issues that affect people’s daily lives. Silvia González (the3million) listed the key problems: the lack of ring-fencing of an agreement about citizens’ rights; no right of return after an absence of more than five years; restrictions on the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice; no family reunification of future spouses and partners; the problems created by the UK’s proposal to include EU citizens under their present immigration procedures for third country nationals.

Michael Harris (EuroCitizens) mentioned that, due to reciprocity, the same immigration process would probably be applied to Britons in the EU, which would increase citizens’ difficulties in securing their status. He strongly criticised the EU’s current position limiting current freedom of movement rights for British residents in EU27 countries; it would be catastrophic for many families whose livelihood depended on this mobility. Ignacio Madariaga (Españoles en el RU) raised the issue of the loss of voting rights for both British and Spanish citizens. He also asked the Spanish government to study the implementation of double nationality for Britons in Spain and the spouses of Spaniards living in the UK. He made a series of practical suggestions. For example, the Spanish government could ask the UK to accept the Spanish Embassy’s register of citizens as valid proof of residence for the application process.

The ministry took note of the associations’ concerns and promised to bear them in mind, although he pointed out that negotiations are in the hands of the European Commission. Mr Dastis said that some of the citizens’ demands could probably be met, but he saw problems for others, such as the life-long right to return, except in well-documented cases. He admitted that issues such as double nationality and the vote in local elections could be agreed bilaterally between Spain and the UK. Finally, he expressed his desire to maintain as fully as possible the current status of Spaniards in Britain and Britons in Spain.

EL MINISTRO DE ASUNTOS EXTERIORES SE REÚNE CON ASOCIACIONES QUE REPRESENTAN A 500.000 CIUDADANOS ESPAÑOLES Y BRITÁNICOS AFECTADOS POR EL BREXIT


El martes 12 de diciembre, los colectivos the3million, Españoles en el Reino Unido y EuroCitizens (que pertenece a la coalición British in Europe) se reunieron con el Ministro de Asuntos Exteriores y Cooperación Alfonso Dastis en el madrileño Palacio de Santa Cruz. El ministro y su equipo escucharon con atención las reivindicaciones de las asociaciones y hubo un diálogo franco y fructífero. 

Camilla Hillier-Fry (EuroCitizens) agradeció el talante que ha mostrado el Sr. Dastis de escuchar las preocupaciones de la ciudadanía. A continuación describió el malestar de los colectivos debido a la incertidumbre en aspectos clave relacionados con la vida diaria de los ciudadanos después del acuerdo provisional entre la UE y el RU. Silvia González (the3million) enumeró las lagunas más preocupantes: la falta del ‘blindaje’ del acuerdo sobre ciudadanos; la restricción del derecho a volver tras una ausencia de cinco años; las limitaciones a la jurisdicción en el RU del Tribunal de Justicia de la UE; las dificultades para la reunificación familiar de futuros esposos y parejas; la problemática derivada de la propuesta del RU de incluir a los ciudadanos europeos bajo su sistema de inmigración para terceros países.

Michael Harris (EuroCitizens) añadió su preocupación por la aplicación de dicho estatus y los consiguientes procedimientos administrativos porque se pueden aplicar a los británicos en la UE en reciprocidad. Criticó con dureza la postura de la UE sobre la limitación para los británicos del derecho a la libre circulación dentro de la UE27; será catastrófica para las familias cuyo sustento depende de su movilidad. Ignacio Madariaga (Españoles en el RU) mencionó la pérdida de derechos políticos para españoles y británicos. También pidió que el gobierno español estudiara la doble nacionalidad para británicos en España y para los cónyuges de los españoles en el RU. Hizo una serie de sugerencias prácticas, por ejemplo solicitar al gobierno británico que estar registrado por la Embajada Española en el RU sea admitida como una prueba de residencia, algo que ayudaría a los colectivos más desfavorecidos.

El ministro tomó nota de las preocupaciones de los ciudadanos y prometió tenerlas en cuenta a la hora de informar la postura del Gobierno español, aunque recordó que la negociación está en manos de la Comisión Europea. El Sr. Dastis valoró positivamente la posibilidad de obtener algunas de las reclamaciones citadas, pero vio más difícil otras como el derecho vitalicio a volver salvo en casos tasados. Admitió que temas como la doble nacionalidad y el voto en las elecciones locales sí se pueden abordar de forma bilateral entre España y el Reino Unido. Finalmente expresó su voluntad de mantener, en todo lo posible, el actual estatus de los españoles en el RU y los británicos en España.

sábado, 9 de diciembre de 2017

EL GOBIERNO BRITÁNICO ABANDONA A SU SUERTE A SUS PROPIOS CIUDADANOS EN LA UE

El acuerdo alcanzado hoy entre la UE y el Reino Unido, para pasar a la siguiente fase de negociaciones, es muy malo para los 1,2 millones de británicos que residen en la Unión Europea. Al comenzar las negociaciones, Michel Barnier estableció el principio básico que ‘el Brexit no debe afectar la vida cotidiana de las personas’. El actual acuerdo sobre los derechos de los ciudadanos no cumple con este principio.

La nota técnica publicada sobre el acuerdo (el cuadro comparativo de las posiciones de la UE y el RU) declara la continuación de los derechos de los europeos y británicos a residir, trabajar, estudiar y recibir prestaciones sociales sin discriminación en su actual país de residencia. También confirma que los mecanismos para coordinar las pensiones y la cobertura sanitaria seguirán en pie. Un tercio de los apartados tratan los procedimientos de solicitud de residencia que han sido la gran preocupación para los tres millones de europeos en el Reino Unido, dado el ambiente ‘hostíl’ creado por el Ministerio de Interior hacía los inmigrantes. Finalmente, el gobierno británico ha concedido el ‘efecto directo’ en la justicia británica de las clausulas sobre la ciudadanía en el Acuerdo de Salida y que los tribunales británicos tengan la obligación de tomar en cuenta las deliberaciones del Tribunal Europeo de Justicia.

Sin embargo, las principales reivindicaciones de la coalición de británicos en la UE, British in Europe y sus asociaciones como EuroCitizens, han sido aparcardas para la siguiente fase de negociaciones cuyo enfoque principal será el nuevo acuerdo comercial entre la UE y el RU. La reivindicación más importante es la continuación de nuestro actual derecho de libre circulación en la UE. Según el acuerdo alcanzado, los británicos solamente tendrán el derecho de residir, trabajar, estudiar etc en su actual país de residencia. No podrán vivir o trabajar durante temporadas en otro país de la Unión. Otros temas a zanjar son la homologación de títulos de distinta índole y el derecho de trabajar como autónomo o establecer un negocio en otro país. 


Una fuente de preocupación también será los procedimientos para obtener un permiso de residencia y trabajo en los países de la UE. En este momento el proceso es de 'certificar' o registrar los derechos de los ciudadanos europeos y en España es bastante sencillo, casi automático. La UE ha aceptado el sistema propuesto por el RU en el que los ciudadanos tienen que 'solicitar' el permiso, dando lugar a muchos problemas, especialmente para las personas con menos ingresos. Es previsible que los países del UE27 adopten las mismas medidas que el gobierno británico. Esto añadirá aún más incertidumbre para los 300.000 británicos en España.

Acabar con estos derechos de la cuidadanía europea pondrá en peligro el sustento de miles de familias británicas y los futuros de muchos niños y jóvenes. La presidenta de la coalición British in Europe, Jane Golding, ha declarado que ‘este acuerdo es mucho peor de lo que esperamos. Para los británicos en Europa es un doble desastre: no solamente perderemos nuestro derecho automático a la residencia, también perderemos nuestra capacidad de circular libremente en el territorio de la UE. Rogamos a los diputados del Parlamento Europeo que no den su respaldo a este acuerdo durante el voto la semana que viene.’

Desde EuroCitizens estamos muy molestos con nuestro propio gobierno que se negó a aceptar la oferta inicial de la UE para garantizar todos los derechos actuales de los ciudadanos europeos y británicos después del Brexit. También porque ahora han firmado este acuerdo que pone en peligro nuestros derechos básicos. A la vez estamos muy desilusionados con la postura de la UE y Michel Barnier. Con este acuerdo el Brexit sí afectará, y mucho, nuestra vida cotidiana.

lunes, 27 de noviembre de 2017

Time to lobby MEPs to protect our rights

What is happening soon? In the next EU Council meeting on 14-15 December, the decision will be taken as to whether sufficient progress has been made in Phase 1 of the negotiations in order to move on to Phase 2. Phase 1 includes Ireland, the financial settlement, and – of course – citizens’ rights. British in Europe is clear that as things stand, there is still a good way to go before our rights can be said to be fully protected.

Why is this important? If the European Commission recommends a ‘sufficient progress’ decision – and there are currently political moves afoot on both sides to make this happen – we fear that there is a risk of a political stitch-up, 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. It’s more vital than ever that the European Parliament holds the line over the next three weeks.

What is required? We urgently need to recruit MEPs across the EU27 as our allies, which means we need to help them to understand what’s at stake and the very real risks we face of losing rights that are essential to our ability to ‘live our lives as before’. On 20 November the British in Europe steering team wrote to every MEP – 751 of them! – setting out the issues; now it’s time for everyone to do the same. All the resources you need to take part in this campaign are attached.

How can you participate?  Write to the MEPs who represent Spain. You can also write to the MEP in the UK, depending on the region which is more relevant to you.   See templates of letters (in Spanish and English) below. you can either copy into or attach to your emails or tweets. 


You can find the names and contact details of MEPs here: http://www.europarl.europa.eu/meps/es/search.html?country=ES

Make your voice heard, and make it heard now! Let MEPs know that British people in Europe are not prepared to have their citizenship rights thrown under the Brexit bus.

Template for letter to UK MEPs.


Please adjust the bits in square brackets in the first paragraph to fit your own circumstances.
Add where you are registered to vote in the UK.
If no longer able to vote, add the place where you last voted.


[Sender’s address]


[Addressee]                                                                                                            [Date]


Dear

I am a British citizen who has lived in [town/province/region] for [number] years.  I am writing to appeal to you as one of my MEPs.  It is now 18 months since the Brexit referendum [in which I had no right to vote as the legislation authorising the referendum denied the right to vote to those who had lived abroad for over 15 years].  Despite promises by both Mr. Barnier and Mrs. May that securing our rights as citizens would be a top priority and that Brexit would not affect our daily lives, no agreement has been reached on our rights, leaving us in limbo and constant anxiety as to our future.   [My family and] I remain fearful about what will happen to [me/us] and unable to plan for the future.

I understand that although there has been some agreement during the negotiations on aspects of Citizens’ Rights, there are many issues that are extremely important to British people like me on which there is no agreement.  The negotiations are now at a critical stage and the European Council has to decide in mid-December whether “sufficient progress” has been made on, among other things, Citizens’ Rights.  It is crucial that the Council does not confirm ‘sufficient progress’ simply so that talks move on to the next phase if there is in fact no agreement on all fundamental issues on citizens’ rights.  If that were to happen we would literally become ‘bargaining chips’ with critical elements of our rights being bartered by M. Barnier and Mr. Davis against future trade relationships.

I therefore urge you as one of my elected representatives in the European Parliament to do all within your power to see that the rights I mention below are safeguarded and that there is no artificial finding of “sufficient progress” if they are not.

British in Europe, the coalition of groups of UK citizens living in Europe has written to you spelling out the big issues which are still outstanding.  As one of the millions of citizens directly affected, I would like to support what they have said, and urge you to support our claim to:
·         Continuation of our right to family reunification, so that families are not divided by Brexit;
·         Continuation of our right to freedom of movement throughout the EU27, vital to so many UK citizens who came to Europe to work;
·         Relaxation of the rule that will deprive us of the right to return to our homes after Brexit if we have to leave them for two years or more (“the two year rule”);
·         Acceptance by the EU of the UK offer to lift the two year rule for EU citizens in the UK in exchange for freedom of movement for UK citizens in the EU.  This has not yet been accepted by the EU negotiators despite being in the evident interest of their own citizens.
·         The continuation of full recognition of all professional qualifications throughout the EU27 and in the UK, vital for so many who work;
·         Continuation of existing cross-border working and other economic rights throughout the EU27 for those who are exercising them at the moment;
·         Continuation of our existing rights to vote in EU and local elections.
·         Ring-fencing any agreement that is made so that the progress which has been made on matters like securing residence rights, health-care, pensions etc. is not lost.

Please do all that you can to see that we, the British citizens who left the UK to embrace the European ideal, and the EU citizens who moved to the UK in the same spirit, are protected against the consequences of a referendum in which the majority of us had no vote.  It is vital that both sides in the negotiations live up to their promises that Brexit should not affect our daily lives.

Yours sincerely,


Template for letter to Eurodiputados/as


Please adjust the bits in square brackets in the first paragraph to fit your own circumstances.

[sender address]


[addressee]                                                                                                            [date]


Estimado [Estimada – for female addressees]

Soy [un ciudadano británico] [una ciudadana británica] que ha vivido en [town /province /region] durante [number of years] años. Me dirijo a usted para hacer un llamamiento, como uno [una – for female addressees] de mis eurodiputados. Han pasado 18 meses desde el referéndum del Brexit [in which I had no right to vote as the legislation authorising the referendum denied the right to vote to those who had lived abroad for over 15 years = en el cual yo no tuve derecho a voto debido a que la legislación que autorizaba el referéndum negaba el derecho al voto a quienes habían vivido fuera del Reino Unido por más de 15 años]. A pesar de las promesas del Sr. Barnier y la Sra. May de que garantizar nuestros derechos como ciudadanos sería una prioridad y que el Brexit no afectaría nuestras vidas cotidianas, no se ha llegado a un acuerdo sobre nuestros derechos, dejándonos en el limbo y con una ansiedad constante sobre nuestro futuro. [My family and I feel = Mi familia y yo sentimos] [I feel = Siento] temor por lo que sucederá [with me - conmigo y no puedo][with us - con nosotros y no podemos] planificar {mi] nuestro futuro.

Entiendo que, aunque ha habido algún acuerdo durante las negociaciones sobre aspectos de los derechos de los ciudadanos, hay muchos asuntos que son extremadamente importantes para los británicos como yo sobre los que no hay acuerdo. Las negociaciones se encuentran ahora en una etapa crítica y el Consejo de Europa debe decidir a mediados de diciembre si se han logrado "avances suficientes" en, entre otros aspectos, los derechos de los ciudadanos. Es imprescindible que el Consejo no confirme unos "avances suficientes" solo para que las conversaciones pasen a la siguiente fase, si de hecho no hay un acuerdo sobre todas las cuestiones fundamentales sobre los derechos de los ciudadanos. Si eso ocurriera, nos convertiríamos literalmente en "bazas de negociación," con elementos fundamentales de nuestros derechos negociables por el Sr. Barnier y el Sr. Davis a cambio de futuras relaciones comerciales.

Por lo tanto, le insto a usted, como uno de mis representantes elegidos en el Parlamento Europeo, a hacer todo lo que esté en su mano para garantizar que los derechos que menciono a continuación estén protegidos y que no haya ninguna declaración de ficticios "avances suficientes" si estos no existen en realidad.

British in Europe (Británicos en Europa), la coalición de grupos de ciudadanos del Reino Unido que 
viven en Europa, les ha escrito explicando los grandes problemas todavía pendientes de resolver. 
Como uno de los millones de ciudadanos directamente afectados, apoyo lo que han dicho e insto a que
usted apoye nuestra reclamación de:
 
• Continuidad de nuestro derecho a la reunificación familiar, para que el Brexit no divida a las familias;
• Continuidad de nuestro derecho a libertad de circulación en toda la UE-27; fundamental para tantos
 ciudadanos británicos que trabajan en Europa;
• Flexibilizar la disposición que nos privaría del derecho a regresar a nuestros hogares después del Brexit, 
si tuviéramos que dejarlos durante dos o más años ("la disposición de los dos años");
• La aceptación por parte de la UE de la propuesta del Reino Unido de anular la disposición de los dos años
 para los ciudadanos de la UE en el Reino Unido a cambio de la libertad de circulación para los ciudadanos del
 Reino Unido en la UE. Esto aún no ha sido aceptado por los negociadores de la UE a pesar de ser, 
evidentemente, de interés para sus propios ciudadanos.
• Continuidad del pleno reconocimiento de todas las titulaciones profesionales en toda la UE27 y en el
 Reino Unido, que es fundamental para tantos trabajadores;
• Continuidad del trabajo transfronterizo y otros derechos económicos vigentes en toda la UE27 para 
quienes los ejercen en la actualidad;
• Continuidad de nuestros actuales derechos de voto en elecciones locales municipales y al Parlamento
 Europeo.
Garantizar cualquier acuerdo que se alcance para que no se pierdan  progresos logrados en asuntos 
como preservar derechos de residencia, atención sanitaria, pensiones, etc.
 
Ruego haga todo lo posible para asegurar que nosotros, los ciudadanos británicos que salimos del
Reino Unido para acoger el ideal europeo, y los ciudadanos de la UE que se mudaron al Reino Unido
con el mismo espíritu, estén protegidos contra las consecuencias de un referéndum en el cual la mayoría 
de nosotros no tuvimos voto. Es fundamental que ambas partes en las negociaciones cumplan sus 
promesas de que el Brexit no afecte nuestra vida cotidiana.
 
Aténtamente,





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:

A SURREAL MEETING IN BRUSSELS

After the meeting
The business district at half past eight on a Sunday morning in November:

A bitter wind sweeps in from Outer Siberia. The streets of the home city of René Magritte are deserted apart from the occasional jogger and dog walker. The restaurants and cafés are shut. The boulangerie looks open but is not, its delicious cream cakes tantalisingly out of reach. A pity there is no brick to hand to smash the shop window and get that hit of caffeine and sugar. Even the 24/7 supermarket is locked and bolted - and that would require heavy artillery.

Half an hour later, out of the cold and inside the foyer of a modern office block:

This place is home to an embassy and a European institution dedicated to fighting alcohol abuse. Was it a good idea to have that second glass of Belgian whisky after dinner? On the third floor, there is a plush, well-equipped office. In the kitchen, someone has laid on coffee, fresh croissants and sticky buns. Hallelujah! 

In the meeting room, a dozen or so men and women mill around:

Something is strange, these people are all Brits. A Brexiteer terrorist cell plotting to blow up the nearby EU Commission on Guy Fawkes Day? Unlikely. This lot hark from all corners of Europe: Paris, Berlin, the Duchy of Luxembourg, the windswept Dutch seaside, the depths of provincial France, a wooded hill in earthquake-wracked Umbria and a rocky mountainside in central Spain. There are three lawyers, one of them a QC. Some have backgrounds in business and consultancy. One is a psychotherapist with a walking business in the French Pyrenees. There is a magazine publisher and an educational writer. What an odd mix.

The meeting begins. There are flip charts and post-it notes, laptops unsheathed:

So who the hell are these guys? Cranks dreaming of bringing back Esperanto? Bird lovers fighting to save the European lesser spotted bearded tit from extinction? No, they are talking about citizens’ rights and Brexit, so this must be something political. But two or three of them are lifelong Labour supporters. Another couple are prominent figures in the Conservative party. There is a diehard LibDem and at least one stray Green. A broad church one might say. Can we expect fireworks, blood on the floor?

A professional facilitator chivvies proceedings along:

In two weeks’ time, she will be doing the same with the heads of states of the European Union in Gothenburg. So why is she wasting her valuable time on this motley crew? The talk turns to strategy. These people have met Michel Barnier and Guy Verhofstadt. They have regular tête-à-têtes with top civil servants from DExEU and the Home Office. They hobnob with MEPs in Brussels and frequent the draughty corridors of the Palace of Westminster. Only the elusive David Davis remains beyond their reach. But of course he is a very busy man.

The debate ebbs and flows, the flip chart flips:

The group mulls over strategy: what to do if negotiations break down, if there is no Brexit deal; how to campaign over the next crucial weeks before the EU summit in December. They talk about statutes and funding, organisation and outreach, media and communication. But there is something unusual about this meeting. None of the participants are nodding off. Nobody is doodling or playing Candy Crush. This is exciting stuff! And they keep it up for eight hours, with a quick break for lunch in an unheated Lebanese restaurant.

After the event, several participants sip Belgian beer in an Irish pub:


So how did it go? The agenda was covered and crucial decisions made. And without any posturing or futile argument, without big egos or hogging the floor. There is a lot to do, there are veritable mountains to climb. But everybody feels positive. The politicians playing poker with the lives of four million people are going to find these campaigners a thorn in their side. If more people join up, volunteer to take on small tasks and spread the workload, almost anything could be achieved. Next week, four of the participants will be meeting the great Monsieur Barnier himself. They will remind him of his promise not to let Brexit change people’s everyday lives.

What’s the name of the group? I really want to know.


Sorry, I almost forgot. It’s called British in Europe  - the coalition representing UK citizens in Europe. Get in touch. Join up. Volunteer. You can make a difference too.


Report on British in Europe Steering Committee meeting 05/11/17 by Michael Harris (EuroCitizens)