lunes, 21 de enero de 2019

EUROCITIZENS WELCOMES THE SPAIN/UK TREATY ON POLITICAL RIGHTS

Photo: UK Embassy Madrid
21/01/19 This morning the Spanish and British governments signed a bilateral treaty which will guarantee after Brexit the political rights in local elections of Spaniards in the UK and Britons in Spain. EuroCitizens would like to thank the Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores and the British Embassy in Madrid for all their hard work in negotiating this agreement  in such a short time. It will preserve at least some of the political rights of Britons in Spain and, as well as voting, will allow for communities with large British populations to elect councillors to represent them.


We hope that this level of cooperation can be replicated in other bilateral treaties, to safeguard our rights and those of Spaniards in the UK even in the unfortunate event of a no-deal Brexit. This deal should also serve as an example to other EU-27 countries to maintain political rights in local elections for both groups of citizens affected. Finally, we hope that this agreement will encourage MPs at Westminster to support the private members' bill currently going through the Commons, which will restore voting rights in general elections for Britons who have lived outside the UK for more than fifteen years.

To make sure that you can stand or vote in the Spanish municipal elections this May, go along to your Town Hall and check that you are on the electoral roll. The deadline is Tuesday 30 January. Don't miss it!

Information about the censo electoral
http://www.ine.es/ss/Satellite?c=Page&p=1254735788988&pagename=CensoElectoral%2FINELayout&cid=1254735788988&L=1

Also see information on the Embassy website: https://www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain#voting

lunes, 14 de enero de 2019

THE NO-DEAL CONTINGENCY PLANS OF THE SPANISH GOVERNMENT FOR UK CITIZENS

After a cabinet meeting last Friday, 11 January 2019, the Spanish government announced their contingency plans for Spanish and British citizens affected by Brexit. EuroCitizens welcomes this move and eagerly looks forward to seeing the measures, which will be published on a government website (see link below).

The government has been working for some time on plans for a no-deal Brexit, both in the area of commerce and of citizens. Three kinds of measures will be taken:

- legislative action: a bill (Decreto Ley) in February to enable changes to be made to current laws and additional measures added
- logistical action: additional resources in areas such as customs and immigration
- communication: a website to provide information for citizens and businesses affected

Government spokeswoman Isabel Celaá gave a strong message of reassurance to all concerned that, even in the undesirable event of a no-deal Brexit, measures have been taken to avoid dislocation for both people and companies. 
The government announced that they will 'broadly preserve the rights of citizens who took their decisions believing in the European Project'. This will affect legal British residents in Spain whose rights to live and work will be guaranteed as will their healthcare and social security benefits. Political rights in local elections, for both Spaniards in the UK and Britons in Spain, will be protected via a bilateral agreement that is being worked on by both governments and would give citizens the right to vote and stand as councillors.

EuroCitizens and other British in Europe groups in Spain need to analyse the specific measures that are taken before we can evaluate them. However, this is another very positive move forward after previous declarations from minister Borrell and Prime Minister Sánchez that a cliff-edge for citizens will definitely be avoided. Remember that this protection will only be valid for legally registered Britons and that, if you are not fully registered, do so as soon as possible. 

Link to Spanish Govt website:   

http://www.lamoncloa.gob.es/lang/en/brexit/howtoprepare/Paginas/20190110pre-spain.aspx

jueves, 20 de diciembre de 2018

LA AMENAZA DE UN BREXIT DURO PARA LOS 314.000 RESIDENTES BRITÁNICOS EN ESPAÑA

El pasado 19 de diciembre, la Comisión Europea anunció sus planes para un Brexit duro, garantizando la continuación de los acuerdos actuales sobre aviación y servicios financieros. Sin embargo, la Comisión no prorrogará los derechos de los 1,2 millones de británicos en la UE-27 y, como resultado, se convertirán automáticamente en Nacionales de un Tercer País el 30 de marzo.

El Reino Unido pone en marcha los preparativos del Brexit
El Reino Unido ha definido la legislación para registrar a los más de tres millones de europeos residentes en el país, ha comenzado el proceso de registro y ha prometido garantizar la mayor parte de los derechos en el Acuerdo de Retirada. Sin embargo, el hecho de que el gobierno no haya garantizado todos los derechos de la ciudadanía en el Acuerdo de Retirada en un caso de un Brexit duro ha aumentado la desconfianza entre los países de la UE27.

Los británicos residentes en la UE27 tendrán el estatus de Nacionales de un Tercer País
En su comunicado la Comisión Europea se limita a instar a los Estados Miembros a permitir que los británicos sigan siendo residentes mientras se legisle el proceso de convertir a los británicos en Nacionales de un Tercer País. Recomienda un enfoque 'pragmático' con el uso de documentos provisionales. Aunque, según la Comisión, a los ciudadanos con más de cinco años de residencia se les debe otorgar una residencia a largo plazo de acuerdo con las normas de la UE, habrá condiciones y no se trata de una garantía de derechos. A pesar de que los asuntos de seguridad social estén bajo la competencia de la UE, la Comisión subraya que la coordinación entre el Reino Unido y la UE dejará de existir.

Los planes de contingencia para residentes británicos en España existen, pero no se conocen
La última etapa caótica de las negociaciones sobre el Brexit ha aumentado la probabilidad de un divorcio sin acuerdo, con la consiguiente incertidumbre para  británicos y europeos afectados por la salida. El 13 de diciembre el ministro Borrell destacó, en una comparecencia ante la Comisión Mixta para la UE, la voluntad benévola del Gobierno hacia los residentes británicos en España. Mencionó asimismo la existencia de unos planes de contingencia para 'garantizar el conjunto de los derechos que ejercen actualmente', siempre que haya reciprocidad.

Según Michael Harris, Presidente de EuroCitizens, una asociación que defiende los derechos de ciudadanos afectados por el Brexit, es urgente conocer estos planes “Durante los dos últimos años, nos hemos reunido periódicamente con distintos ministerios españoles donde hemos sido bien recibidos y escuchados. No obstante, para acabar con la incertidumbre actual, los británicos necesitamos saber lo antes posible cuáles son aquellos planes de contingencia. Lo más urgente es un periodo transitorio para evitar que nos convirtamos en indocumentados, con todo lo que eso conlleva.”

Los pensionistas menos adinerados, un colectivo en riesgo
Pocos de los 100.000 pensionistas británicos que viven en España cumplirán con el requisito de tener ingresos de 26.000 euros al año, al convertirse en 'residentes no-lucrativos' bajo el Regimen General de Extranjería.

Pérdida de derechos para todos
Si hay un acuerdo, los residentes británicos en la UE27 perderán derechos claves como la libertad de movimiento dentro de la Unión y derechos asociados. Si no hay acuerdo - y si el gobierno de España no legisla con rapidez - habrá vidas destrozadas y familias rotas, además de graves consecuencias económicas para muchas zonas costeras.

El pasado 10 de diciembre EuroCitizens y British in Europe presentaron un informe al gobierno español, detallando los posibles impactos del Brexit duro sobre los británicos en España. En palabras de Harris, “El Brexit está a la vuelta de la esquina y supone una amenaza inminente para 314.000 británicos en España. Rogamos al Gobierno español que tome en cuenta las preocupaciones de estos residentes, muchos de los que han hecho su vida en España. Estas personas no se merecen vivir con una angustia permanente provocada por la incertidumbre.”

viernes, 30 de noviembre de 2018

EUROCITIZENS MEETING ON 22/11/18 WITH EMBASSY TEAM TO DISCUSS CITIZENS' RIGHTS

This meeting was held a couple of weeks ago in Madrid (22/11/18). John Carrivick, John Richards and Nigel Aston met Tim Hemmings (Deputy Head of Mission),  Lorna Geddie (Regional Consular Policy Advisor) and Sarah-Jane Morris (HMCG) at EuroCitizens request to receive an update on HMG´s perspective on specific Brexit arrangements.
 
1. Tim Hemming commented that the Political Declaration had been sent from the Council of Ministers to HMG in the hours preceding our meeting.  No analysis had been undertaken given the tight time frame and Lorna would revert once this could be done, focussing on Citizens´ Rights, but would wait until the 25 November Council meeting outcome. Tim stressed that the declaration covered the future, was non binding, that the drafting had been undertaken mainly by the "27". He thought that it contained mention of ongoing mutual recognition of qualifications and that seems to be borne out by the text
2. There was some discussion of potential (albeit unlikely) vetos from Spain (Gibraltar) and France (fishing rights).  The meeting took place before the reported exchange between the UK and Spanish PMs.  Tim felt the issues were mostly between the respective Spanish and French Governments and Taskforce 50 and the other states within EU27
3. In discussion of the Withdrawal Agreement, the Embassy confirmed that on residence requirements everyone legally residing in the EU and, inter alia in the UK, by the end of the transition period were covered and asked EuroCitizens to continue to promote the need to register as a resident to their members.  Recent comments by the UK PM on immigration to the UK applied only to individuals seeking residence after that date (although the PM afterwards in fact regretted her use of certain language during Question Time).
On political rights, separate to both the Withdrawal Agreement and Future Political declaration, Tim confirmed there seemed to be a general willingness to extend current municipal voting rights under a bilateral agreement but less clarity about whether people would be able to stand as candidates.
4.  John R summarised at a high level and in general terms EuroCitizens´ recent meetings with Spanish ministries.
5. With respect to the possibility of a no deal it was clear that there is a general feeling this is unlikely. HM Embassy detect that Spain is planning for a deal.  The UK has made overtures to the effect that citizens´ rights should be protected in the case of a no deal. Recent pronouncements by Spanish Ministers was attributed to the fact that the Commission had requested EU27 to analyse their respective positions in the case of a no deal.  Lorna highlighted that the Commission had published the week before a report on preparedness in the event of a no deal scenario, which included some information relevant to citizens.
6. The Embassy said that HMG was looking at the issue of national competences to determine where subsequent bi-lateral agreements would operate rather than multi-lateral cross EU agreements.  The implementation would apply either on a negotiated agreement or no deal situation.
7. The Embassy invited EuroCitizens to continue highlighting the pressure points that citizens face.  The issue of building up residence periods to qualify for permanent residence was cited.
8.  The Embassy recognise the importance of rights of continuing Onward Movement.  They emphasised that the UK wanted this in the future arrangements agreement and advised EuroCitizens to continue lobbying the Spanish administration on its importance to secure their support in the drafting.

lunes, 26 de noviembre de 2018

THE FORGOTTEN AND DISENFRANCHISED 1.2 MILLION: WE DON'T EVEN HAVE THE RIGHT TO BE HEARD BY MPs

Speaker John Bercow   Photo: The Guardian AP
EuroCitizens has participated in British in Europe campaigns involving the lobbying of Members of Parliament. Whilst some MPs have been very sympathetic to us, many people in our group have either received no reply or been directly told that the MP cannot deal with the query as the person writing is no longer resident in the constituency. EuroCitizens Secretary Nigel Aston thus wrote a very reasonable letter about this subject to House of Commmons Speaker John Bercow. Apparently, there is nothing he can do about the refusal of MPs to answer us as he 'has no responsibility for the way in which MPs choose to deal with constituency affairs' (see correspondence below).

We will follow Mr Bercow's suggestion to write to the Electoral Commission but our only hope seems to be the Overseas Electors' Bill, a private member's bill plodding very slowly through the House of Commons. It has the support of the government, but it appears that the Labour Party is against it so the initiative might well go the same way as other attempts to restore our vote.
  
Remember that, after March 29, we will lose all our political rights as EU citizens and thus be unable to vote anywhere. What makes this situation even worse is the fact that our concerns can be ignored by MPs. We are completely on our own now.

Help us to help you by donating to British in Europe:

http:// https://britishineurope.org/donate-today/

Correspondence:

miércoles, 14 de noviembre de 2018

14/11/18: THE OPINION OF EUROCITIZENS ON THE RECENT EU/UK DEAL

For British citizens in Spain a deal is much better than a no-deal scenario as it protects some of our key rights like residency in our host country, healthcare for UK pensioners and social security coordination — while losing other ones like freedom of movement and the ability to deliver cross-border services.

However, we cannot fully evaluate the agreement until we have seen the final text. And on many issues that affect us, and the UK as whole, this will be a blind Brexit with almost everything to be negotiated after the UK has left the EU and thus in an even weaker position than now. In addition, huge uncertainty still remains over whether the deal will actually go through a) the cabinet b) the UK parliament c) the European Parliament.

Because of all this, EuroCitizens will continue to fully support British in Europe in lobbying for the ring-fencing of Citizens' Rights, to work for any possible strengthening of the CRs section of the Withdrawal Agreement and to fight for a People's Vote for All with the option of Remain on the ballot paper. At the same time, we will continue to engage with the Spanish central government to find out what the Withdrawal Agreement will mean for us practically in terms of our lives as Third-Country Nationals and what contingency plans there are for a no-deal Brexit.
 
When we have seen and evaluated the final text, we will put out another more detailed statement.

lunes, 12 de noviembre de 2018

CITIZENS' RIGHTS GROUPS MEET VINCE CABLE IN MADRID

Meeting in Madrid to discuss Citizens' Right   (Nigel Aston on the right)
Liberal Democratic Party leader Sir Vince Cable was in Madrid 8-10 November for the annual congress of European Liberal parties (ALDE).  EuroCitizens' secretary Nigel Aston was able to meet Sir Vince, who was accompanied by LibDem President Sal Brinton and MEP Catherine Bearder (South East England), and put across our concerns both with respect to the current draft Withdrawal Agreement (WA) and our position in the case of a No Deal Brexit.  Representatives of Remain in Spain also attended this informal meeting.

Nigel particularly highlighted the absence of Freedom of Movement and related themes from the WA, along with ongoing issues of treatment of spouses and partners post Brexit (a particular concern also of the Bremain in Spain representatives). Sir Vince and his colleagues appeared to understand our concerns in full and we were met with a completely sympathetic hearing.  Interestingly Sir Vince felt that the risk of a "No Deal" is relatively low, a view expressed also by Sir Keir Starmer, Labour spokesperson on Europe, in an interview with "The Sunday Times" on 11 November.

In the light of recent attacks on EU nationals (including Spaniards) in the UK, we were asked about victimisation of UK nationals in Spain.  We were glad to say that, at least for now, these are a rarity.

The Liberal Democrat party, of course, is a proponent of the Peoples´ Vote on the terms the UK Government achieves in the current negotiations with the EU.  It is vitally important that those of us eligible to vote in the UK (less than 15 years away from the UK) ensure NOW that we are on the relevant electoral roll and in a position to receive a postal vote.