miércoles, 20 de febrero de 2019

PLEASE LOBBY FOR THE 'COSTA AMENDMENT' TO RING-FENCE CITIZENS' RIGHTS

A Conservative MP, Alberto Costa, is proposing an amendment to the motion being voted on in the House of Commons next Wednesday 27th Feb.  The amendment (see below) calls for the Prime Minister to ask the EU to jointly agree  *as soon as possible* to adopt the citizens' rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement - whatever happens with Brexit.
Mr Costa has a lot of support from MPs already, cross party and across all wings of the Conservative party.  The3million and British in Europe are writing to every single MP to ask for their support - to increase the chances of the Speaker selecting this amendment next week.

However, it will make much more impact if MPs receive emails from their own constituents - so please write!

If you like, you can download and attach (or link to) this joint British in Europe / the3million letter:  https://bit.ly/BiE_t3m_Ringfencing_CostaAmendment


The amendment:

“This House considers the Prime Minister’s statement of 26th February and requires the Prime Minister to seek at the earliest opportunity a joint UK-EU commitment to adopt part two of the Withdrawal Agreement on Citizens Rights and ensure its implementation prior to the UK’s exiting the European Union, whatever the outcome of negotiations on other aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement”

martes, 19 de febrero de 2019

EUROCITIZENS' QUESTIONS FOR THE EMBASSY ABOUT A NO-DEAL BREXIT


See below a list of questions about a no-deal Brexit. We have tried to identify issues for which, at the moment, there do not seem to be obvious answers (and which were not covered at the last UK Embassy outreach session in Madrid). If you have a specific concern which you would like us to pass on, write to us at eurocitizens2016@gmail.com.

A. Questions for the UK Embassy in Spain:

1.     FCO measures
- What contingency plans does the UK Embassy in Spain have for a no deal?
- How do you plan to get information to all the 314,000 British residents?
- What are your plans to help vulnerable groups?
- What help will you offer to citizens who encounter problems with registration as Third Country Nationals?
- What will the FCO’s role be in any potential deportations of unregistered Britons?

2. Bilateral negotiations and contacts
- What progress has been made towards bilateral deals on these issues?
healthcare (continuation of S1 scheme for UK pensioners)
social security coordination (especially pensions aggregation)
recognition of qualifications
-When and how is the Embassy going to update citizens’ groups about contacts with the Spanish government?
-How will bilateral contacts be affected by the upcoming Spanish elections?

3. Questions about a no deal
-What will happen to the coverage of UK pensioners if the S1 scheme ends and there is no bilateral deal?
-What will happen to British children born or brought up in Spain but living abroad at the time of Brexit?
-What will happen to people with pensions from around the EU when the aggregated pension coordination falls away?
What is your advice about applications for Spanish or EU long-term residence permits?
-Do you have any advice for self-employed people offering services in the EU-27?
-Will you be holding another outreach event for UK citizens in Madrid who could not get in last Friday?

Questions to pass on to the UK government:

1. Returning UK citizens
- Will healthcare and social benefits be available from the date of return?
- Will EU family face the hostile environment?

2. Measures within the gift of the UK government
-Why can’t the UK government guarantee pensions uprating for UK pensioners who have moved to the EU-27 on the basis that their pensions would be uprated?
-Why can’t the government offer home fees for children of UKinEU?
-Why can’t the rights of EUinUK citizens be enshrined in primary legislation?
-Is the UK government aware that any poor treatment of EU citizens in the UK will cause reciprocal measures to be taken in the EU-27?
- Why can’t the UK govt offer to cover the costs of the S1 healthcare scheme for UK pensioners while bilateral agreements are reached?

lunes, 18 de febrero de 2019

UPDATE ON SPANISH NO-DEAL CONTINGENCY PLANS FOR UK RESIDENTS


On Wednesday 6 February, representatives of EuroCitizens met civil servants from the Foreign Ministry, the Interior Ministry and Presidencia. A law (decreto ley) with full details to enable measures to be put into place in the event of a hard Brexit will not be passed until the beginning of March. However, we received clarification about key points of the Spanish government’s no-deal plans for British residents in Spain. The government aims to make our transition from EU citizens to third-country nationals as simple as possible, though everything will be conditional on reciprocity and the UK government's treatment of Spanish citizens in the UK.


1. A generous 'period of grace' for registration



Sufficient time will be given, in the event of a hard Brexit, for UK residents to register as third-country nationals. The length of this 'transition' period is not definite yet, but it will be sufficient and will also depend on the effective date on which the UK leaves the EU.



2. How to register as a third-country national



a) Information for registered Britons:



After 29/03/19 your existing EU document (your registration certificate or residence card as a family member of an EU citizen) will continue to be valid until the end of the period of grace even though you are no longer an EU citizen. During this period, you will have to apply for new third-country ID, a Tarjeta de Identificación de Extranjeros (TIE). The procedure for granting this new status will be ‘practically automatic’ for legally resident UK citizens. Both the long transition period and the simplified nature of the process are similar to the contingency measures of other EU 27 countries which is promising, though we will need to see all the details: the application form, the cost, help provided for vulnerable groups etc. Our interlocutors at the ministries also promised that extra resources would be dedicated to immigration staff (at oficinas de extranjería and comisarias) in provinces with large British populations.



b) Information for non-registered Britons resident before Brexit:



If you and all your family members are not yet registered, eg if you have recently arrived, you should immediately apply at a foreigner’s office (oficina de extranjería) or police station (comisaría) for an EU citizen's resident document. If you have been unable to formally submit your application or have not been given an appointment before the withdrawal date, eg, your appointment is given after that date, there will be a specific process for applying for the new third-country ID during the period of grace, as long as you can prove that you were residing in Spain before the 29 March.



So to sum up:



- If you apply for your EU citizen's resident document before 29 March (or the effective date on which the UK leaves the EU), your application will be considered under the same conditions as current legal UK residents.

- If you are resident but have been unable to formally apply for an EU citizen's resident document before 29 March (or the effective date on which the UK leaves the UE), you will have to apply directly for the new third-country ID during the period of grace. However, the requirements stipulated by the new law, (that enables no-deal Brexit measures in Spain), will be similar to those for an EU citizen. Your application will be processed through a specific process which will be less demanding than the general residence process for all other third-country nationals.



In all of the above situations, during the period of grace, your residence in Spain will be considered legal.



c) Britons arriving in Spain after Brexit day:



Applications for people arriving after 29 March will be processed in the same way as those for all other third-country nationals, with the corresponding requirements which are considerably more demanding than those for EU citizens, especially for non-working people. It is also important to point out that, if the UK leaves the EU with no agreement, British citizens who are not registered as residents will, like all other third-country nationals, only be allowed to spend 90 days in any one six-month period and that their exit and entry will be controlled at ports and airports to enforce this.



3. New documentation



Your new ID card (TIE) will be biometric and will be valid throughout Spain and for travel within the EU-27 along with a passport. The document will accredit your status as legally-resident third-country nationals (under the régimen general de extranjeros as opposed to our current situation under the régimen de ciudadanos de la UE). If you have more than five years of legal residence, you will be able to get long-term residence (residencia de larga duración). If you have less than five years legal residence, you will be able to apply, under the same conditions, for long-term residence after Brexit once you have completed five years residence.



4. Working after Brexit



If you are employed (por cuenta ajena) or self-employed (por cuenta propia), you will be able to continue working as now. If you have exercised a profession using UK qualifications before 29/03/19, you will be able to continue to do so. If you are a Spanish civil servant (funcionario) with British nationality, you will be able to continue your employment even though you are no longer an EU citizen.



5. Social security coordination



On 30 March, automatic coordination of social security between the UK and the EU will end. Thus there will have to be a new bilateral agreement covering this area between Spain and the UK or between de the EU and the UK. This would enable existing social security rights and aggregated pensions to be recognised for Spaniards in the UK and Britons in Spain.



6. Healthcare



The existing S1 scheme and EHIC card will also stop automatically in the event of a hard Brexit. A new agreement between Spain and the UK will have to be reached which reflects the true costs of the healthcare for the roughly 77,000 British UK pensioners in Spain compared with the mere hundreds of Spanish pensioners in Britain (to maintain access to public health for UK nationals as now).



Conclusion


One of the most difficult things to deal with for UK residents since the Brexit vote has been the lack of certainty about our futures. Now at least we know that, despite a Brexit cliff-edge, in Spain there will be a lengthy transition period and potentially simple administrative procedures to enable us to bridge the sad transition from European citizens to third-country nationals. We would like to thank again the civil servants who met us on 6 February, worked with us on this document and indeed who have engaged fully with us since the triggering of Article 50 nearly two years ago.


See below the document we sent to the MAEC before our meeting on February 6.

jueves, 7 de febrero de 2019

SPANISH BiE GROUPS WRITE TO THE UK AMBASSADOR IN SPAIN

British in Europe's letter to the PM  (full letter)

On 6 February the four BiE groups in Spain (EuroCitizens, Bremain in Spain, Brexpats Hear Our Voice and ECREU) wrote to HMA Simon Manley raising serious issues related to a no-deal scenario. The ambassador has replied to us and we hope to have a meeting with him soon.

Dear Ambassador,

We are writing to express our concern about the situation which the 77,000 UK pensioners in Spain could face in the event of a no-deal Brexit. We attach a letter to Theresa May from the coalition British in Europe about current contingency plans for healthcare and pensions uprating, for your information and to highlight the real risk of a humanitarian disaster for a sizable proportion of the 314,000 legally resident UK citizens in Spain.

A recent UK government notification blithely informs Britons in the EU that, in the event of no deal, the S1 scheme will become invalid on 30 March. It states that ‘your access to healthcare may change’ and ‘you should buy healthcare insurance in the country you live in’. As the government must be well aware, private medical insurance will be beyond the reach of many UK pensioners because, even if granted, the cost would be prohibitive for elderly people with chronic illnesses. We therefore echo British in Europe’s demand for HMG to unilaterally guarantee the S1 scheme in a no-deal scenario.

A related issue, mentioned in BiE’s letter, is that of pensions uprating. The UK government has promised to continue this for another year, after which it will be ‘subject to reciprocity’. This is a specious stipulation as uprating is entirely within the grant of HMG. In addition, the freezing of pensions would be to move the goalposts for the thousands of retirees who moved to Spain as EU citizens, taking into consideration that their income would be annually adjusted for inflation. Thus we would like the UK government to commit to continued pension uprating for all those Britons who moved to the EU in good faith as well as for Spanish returnees with UK pensions.

The aforementioned HMG notification also says that the government is ‘seeking agreement’ with EU Member States for the continuation of reciprocal healthcare agreements in the event of no deal. We would be interested to know how such negotiations can take place when social security and healthcare coordination is an EU competence which has so far only been dealt with in EU-UK negotiations. We would also like to find out what, if any, progress has been made in these areas between the Spanish and British governments. We applaud the recent bilateral agreements on political rights, but we are sure you would agree that there is little point in having the right to vote if you cannot access the healthcare needed to keep you alive.

As you know, on January 14 the Spanish government published a website with its broad proposals for citizens’ rights for Britons in Spain in the case of no deal. For example, there is a promise that ‘contingency measures are planned to guarantee healthcare provision for British citizens in Spain’ from 30 March. The Spanish government has promised to publish details of enabling legislation for contingency planning in February and we are having a meeting with the Foreign Ministry today. However, we would also be grateful if the UK Embassy could make the point to the Spanish government that any further delays in providing this information will prolong uncertainty and anguish amongst British residents.

We would like to ask you, as our representative in Spain, what contingency plans the UK Embassy has for dealing with a no-deal scenario. This could be a disaster for Britons in Spain unless a series of measures are taken urgently. Firstly, unilateral guarantees should be made by HMG on the S1 scheme and pensions uprating. Secondly, bilateral cooperation must be quickly established on social security and healthcare. Thirdly, Spanish contingency measures need to effectively deal with these issues as well as the processing of our new status as third-country nationals and the guaranteeing of our existing rights.

Theresa May has repeatedly made a ‘total and dedicated commitment’ to protecting UK citizens in the EU. We would like you to help us to hold her to this promise by communicating to the UK government our concerns and to ensure that these issues are taken up as a matter of priority. 

Yours sincerely,

BiE groups in Spain


jueves, 24 de enero de 2019

UPDATE: HOW TO MAKE SURE YOU CAN VOTE IN MAY


Añadir leyenda
After intense lobbying by EuroCitizens and other British in Europe groups, the UK and Spanish governments signed a bilateral agreement last Monday, 21 January, which allows British citizens in Spain and Spanish citizens in the UK to continue to vote and stand as candidates in municipal elections regardless of the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
In the case of UK citizens, for the next elections to be held on 26 May,  you must
- have been legally resident in Spain for at least three years,
- be registered on the Padrón
- and be registered on the electoral roll (Censo Electoral) before 30 January (i.e. next Wednesday).
Theoretically, you should not have to do anything if you are already registered as a foreign voter. However, over the period since the last election, people can be dropped from the Roll for many different reasons, including but not limited to a change of address or municipality. To be absolutely sure of being able to vote in this year's municpal elections, you may want to re-register. To do this, download the DFA form available on many websites, such as:
Fill the form in, take it to the Padrón section of your local Town Hall and ask for a stamped copy. This should make sure you are registered as a voter or enable you to appeal against exclusion if you are left off the Roll which is due to be published in February.

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