viernes, 5 de octubre de 2018

‘No more glib assurances’ says DExEU minister Robin Walker after meeting Citizens’ Rights campaigners in Madrid

Robin Walker in Madrid yesterday with Ambassador Manley
On Thursday 4 October, representatives from Spanish citizens’ rights groups (Bremain in Spain, Brexpats Spain, ECREU and EuroCitizens) met British embassy officials and DExEU minister Robin Walker. During the morning session we were given an update on healthcare, registration and consular back-up by different members of the FCO team. This was followed by an hour-long meeting with the minister. The exchange of views took place in a cordial atmosphere, with the minister giving a positive hearing to the points raised.

Mr Walker recognised that the current Withdrawal Agreement, whilst covering important areas such as healthcare and host country residence, did not include key rights such as the freedom of movement for Britons within the EU-27 and related issues like cross-border service provision. The minister said that this matter had been left for the negotiations about the future EU/UK relationship; we strongly criticised this position, stressing that the 1.2 million Britons in Europe are a finite group of people who have already exercised our freedom of movement rights within the EU-27. We drew Mr Walker’s attention to the European Parliament’s red lines and their suggestion that the EU might accept the keeping of our current freedom of movement in exchange for a lifetime right of return for EUinUK citizens. We also mooted that the UK should seek a standstill position to cover freedom of movement and associated economic rights throughout the negotiations, should this exceed the transition period.

Whilst the Withdrawal Agreement does not cover political rights, which are the competence of member states, Robin Walker gave some very positive news regarding Spain. He said that discussions between the two governments about future bilateral arrangements on political rights, enabling Spaniards in the UK and Britons in Spain to stand and vote in local elections, are at an advanced stage and should be concluded soon.

The minister remained confident that a deal was still possible at the October European Council summit, but citizens’ groups underlined the huge risks for British migrants in Spain of a no-deal scenario as it would entail massive future uncertainty and the immediate loss of many of our EU citizenship rights as we would immediately fall under Third Country National and national legislation. The minister gave an assurance that HMG had embarked on no-deal contingency planning and mentioned the UK’s unilateral assurances to EUinUK citizens. We pointed out that no technical note regarding UKinEU had been published and that any unilateral guarantees by the UK government were insufficient without reciprocal agreement. The representatives of all four groups were united in their demand for the urgent ring-fencing of Citizens’ Rights from other aspects of the Withdrawal Agreement.

We then brought up issues falling within the sole grant of the British government, such as automatic uprating of UK pensions for Britons in the EU, which we were told had already been agreed on. We pointed out that family reunification rights for UK returnees with EU spouses and family were vital and highlighted the issue of home university fees for UKinEU citizens, guaranteed until 2020 but no further. Mr Walker took note of both issues.

Representatives of the groups stressed that the current situation was one of negotiating degrees of loss, given that the EU status quo was far superior to anything that could be obtained in the context of Brexit, let alone in a no-deal scenario. When we raised the issue of votes for life for UKinEU, the minister was personally sympathetic but could give no specific guarantees.

Whilst thanking the minister for meeting us, we roundly criticised HMG’s failure to engage with us more fully at an earlier stage and for ignoring British in Europe's repeated requests for meetings with the DExEU Secretary of State and with Theresa May. We also commented on the PM’s failure to even mention us in recent key prime ministerial speeches. On the topic of UK government messaging, after hearing our criticisms of government spin, Mr Walker admitted that it was not enough to produce glib and general statements in an attempt to reassure Britons in the EU-27 and that citizens needed specific information about how changes might affect their lives.

martes, 25 de septiembre de 2018


El jueves 20 de septiembre tres integrantes de EuroCitizens /British in Europe se reunieron con varios altos cargos del Ministerio de Asuntos Exteriores, Unión Europea y Cooperación, entre ellos los directores generales D. José Pascual Marco y D. Pascual Navarro y el Subdirector de Asuntos Institucionales, D. Raúl Fuentes. El encuentro, el quinto que hemos mantenido con Exteriores a lo largo de los últimos dieciocho meses, fue como siempre muy cordial e informativo.
Cuando preguntamos por la libertad de movimiento de los británicos en la UE (restringida a nuestro país de residencia según el actual Acuerdo de Retirada), nos informaron que, desde enero, no se ha hablado de este tema en las negociaciones, pero aún así, el gobierno español preguntaría por ello al Grupo de Trabajo del Artículo 50 de la Comisión Europea. Acto seguido comentamos los procedimientos para registrar a los británicos en España después del Brexit. Los ministerios de Trabajo, Migración y Servicios Sociales e Interior llevan varios meses trabajando en este asunto y se está estudiando la posibilidad de implantar una nueva tarjeta biométrica para los británicos cubiertos por el Acuerdo de Retirada (las personas que están registradas correctamente antes del fin del periodo de transición). En principio, se utilizará el registro existente, quizás con algunos datos complementarios pero no determinantes. 

Sobre nuestros derechos políticos, de poder votar y presentarnos como candidatos en las elecciones municipales, nos informaron que, conforme con la Constitución Española, existe la posibilidad de alcanzar acuerdos bilaterales y que el gobierno español ya ha mostrado su voluntad de negociar un convenio con el Reino Unido. Los altos cargos expresaron la intención de España de buscar una solución humanitaria para la ciudadanía afectada en el caso (improbable en su opinión) de una salida de Gran Bretaña sin acuerdo ninguno. 

Finalmente, comentamos de forma breve la posibilidad de la doble nacionalidad para los británicos en España y las demoras en la tramitación de la nacionalidad española. Según nuestros interlocutores, ambos asuntos tienen que ver con el Ministerio de Justicia y tienen un marcado carácter político.

Agradecemos al gobierno español su postura positiva y comprensiva hacia el colectivo de los británicos en España, cada vez más preocupados por el cariz que están tomando las negociaciones y por el poco tiempo que queda antes del Brexit.


On Thursday 20 September three members of EuroCitizens /British in Europe met a team of senior civil servants at the Spanish Ministry for Foreign Affairs, including the director generals José Pascual Marco and Pascual Navarro and the Subdirector of Institutional Affairs, Raúl Fuentes. The meeting, the fifth that we have had over the last eighteen months, was as always extremely amicable and informative.

When we asked about the freedom of movement for Britons in the EU (restricted in the current Withdrawal Agreement to our host country), we were told that the subject had not been mentioned in negotiations since last January, but that the Spanish foreign ministry would bring it up again with the European Commission Article 50 Task Force. We went on to discuss the proceedures to be used to register the Britons in Spain after Brexit. The Interior and Labour ministries have been working on this issue for the last few months and the Spanish government is studying the possibility of putting into place a biometric identity card (with photo and fingerprints) for UK citizens covered by the Withdrawal Agreement - those correctly registered before the end of the transition period. The existing register would be used, but with some complementary data.

When we raised the issue of our political rights, to be candidates and to vote in municipal elections, we were informed that, according to the Spanish constitution, bilateral agreements can be reached in this matter and that the Spanish government has already shown its willingness to negotiate a treaty along these lines with the United Kingdom. The senior civil servants said that Spain would actively look for a humanitarian solution for citizens affected by a no-deal scenario, though they thought it highly unlikely. Finally, we dealt briefly with the possibility of dual nationality for Britons in Spain and the delays in processing citizenship applications. Both issues are covered by the Justice Ministry and are highly political.

We thank the Spanish government for its positive and supportive stance towards the Britons living in Spain, who are increasingly concerned by the way in which negotiations are going and the ever-dwindling time that remains before Brexit.

viernes, 21 de septiembre de 2018


Durante el verano el Instituto Complutense de Estudios Internacionales publicó una colección de artículos bajo el título 'Retos contemporáneos a la seguridad de la Unión Europea'. Participó la vice-presidenta de EuroCitizens, Camilla Hillier-Fry con un artículo sobre el impacto del Brexit en el cuidadano europeo. Camilla concluye así: 'El proyecto europeo hizo que 4,5 millones de ciudadanos, hoy residentes en el Reino Unido y la UE-27, cambiaran de país con la legítima esperanza de hacerlo bajo el amparo de los derechos asociados a la ciudadanía y la libertad de movimiento. Ahora sufren una enorme incertidumbre ante la falta de concreción de acuerdos sobre aspectos fundamentales para sus vidas y se enfrentan a un futuro con la amenaza de discriminación jurídica, económica y política. Los ciudadanos de la Unión Europea no se merecen este trato.'

 El artículo:

martes, 26 de junio de 2018


One point of the long vigil  Photo: EuroCitizens
EuroCitizens held a 27 hour vigil to mark the second anniversary of the referendum on UK membership of the European Union. During the vigil, which lasted for 27 hours and coincided with the People’s Vote march in London, British citizens protested at the continued uncertainty for their livelihood, and at the fact that citizens’ rights are clearly not a priority for their government, following the agreement struck between the UK Government and the European Commission last March on the UK´s withdrawal from the European Union.

The vigil began with a speech by journalist and writer Giles Tremlett, who shared the despair that many British citizens feel: “Today we are gathered outside the British Embassy, but the sad truth is that many of us do not know whether it is practical for us to remain British citizens. If we apply for Spanish nationality, that means forcing people to renounce British nationality and if that happens, rather than allowing us to continue our lives as before, the UK government will have expelled us from our status as British citizens – and that would cast shame on them.”

Members of EuroCitizens delivered a letter for the British government to the Ambassador, which in his absence was received by Tim Hemmings, Deputy Head of Mission. Laura Clyde, a British freelance professional with two children, who handed the letter over, highlighted that “Two years after the referendum, many of our questions about our rights essential for our livelihood, are still unanswered. We are living in a state of anxious uncertainty about what will happen to us. Suddenly, the rights, freedoms, guarantees and privileges afforded to us by the UK’s membership of the EU, and upon which we have based our lives in another EU member state, are under threat: these rights may be taken away from us - without our consent - and with no clear picture of what they will be replaced with."

John Carrivick, VicePresident of EuroCitizens, concluded “Today is a sad day when we mourn not only the loss of rights and a way of life but also the inability of the British government to protect its own citizens and a European Union that could not keep faith with its own essence”. 

You can read John's speech in full here: 

More photos:

domingo, 24 de junio de 2018


Un grupo de manifestantes ante la embajada  Foto: EuroCitizens
Ciudadanos británicos en España celebraron una vigilia en el segundo aniversario del referéndum sobre el Brexit. Durante la vigilia, que duró 27 horas y coincidió con la marcha “People’s Vote” en Londres, protestaron contra la incertidumbre que perjudica sus vidas y la probable pérdida de sus derechos en el borrador del Acuerdo de Salida entre el RU y la UE, publicado en marzo de 2018.
La vigilia empezó con un discurso del periodista y escritor Giles Tremlett, quien compartió la desesperación que sienten muchos británicos “Hoy nos hemos reunido delante de la Embajada Británica, pero la triste verdad es que muchos no sabemos si tiene sentido práctico seguir siendo ciudadanos británicos. Si solicitamos la nacionalidad española, nos obliga a renunciar la británica y en ese caso, en vez de poder mantener nuestras vidas como antes, el gobierno británico nos habrá “expulsado” como ciudadanos de su país, y eso es vergonzoso para un gobierno”.
Miembros de EuroCitizens, una asociación que defiende los derechos de británicos en España y de europeos en el Reino Unido, entregó una carta dirigida al gobierno británico a su embajador en España, representado por Tim Hemmings, Ministro Consejero de la Embajada. Laura Clyde, una profesional autónoma con dos hijos, señaló “Dos años después del referéndum, muchas de las preguntas sobre nuestros derechos siguen sin respuesta. Vivimos con gran incertidumbre y ansiedad respecto a qué será de nosotros. Los derechos, libertades, garantías y privilegios que supone la ciudadanía europea,  y bajo cuyo amparo hemos hecho nuestras vidas en otro Estado Miembro de la UE, se ven amenazados. Podemos perder estos derechos – sin haber podido participar en el referéndum – y no hay claridad respecto a nuestra situación futura.”
John Carrivick, VicePresidente de EuroCitizens, concluyó “Hoy es un día triste, cuando lamentamos no solo la pérdida de nuestros derechos y un modo de vivir, sino también la incapacidad, tanto del gobierno británico de proteger a sus propios ciudadanos, como la de la Unión Europea a mantenerse fiel a su propia esencia.”

lunes, 11 de junio de 2018


From 12 noon on Friday 22 June until 3pm on Saturday 23 June, EuroCitizens will be organising a vigil below the British Embassy in Madrid (near Torre Espacio, Castellana 259) to ask the UK government to defend our citizens' rights which are under threat in the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the EU and the UK (freedom of movement, professional qualifications, family reunification, economic rights, political rights). 

Permission for the vigil has been applied for and the protest will at all times be good-humoured and well-mannered. We know that we are not going to get huge crowds, but we would like to have as many people as possible throughout the 27 hours of the vigil to show the strength of feeling of UKinEU citizens who have already suffered nearly two years of uncertainty and face losing key rights.

You can sign up for shifts at the vigil here:

Here is a rough timetable of events:

Friday 22 June
12 noon - demo begins
13.30 - speech by journalist and writer Giles Tremlett
14:00 - letter/s of protest to be presented to the Ambassador 
14:00 - 20:00: demonstration continues with core presence
20:00 -  'Protest Picnic/Citizens' Rights supper' with speeches by (tbc) and music. People bring their own food.
12:00 - All-night vigil begins, continuing to start of events the next day.

Saturday 23 June
12 noon - full demo starts again with video connection with the rally in London / possible link-up with groups in other countries.
2pm - speech by (tbc)
3pm - End of vigil, possible laying of a wreath symbolising the death of UKinEU citizens' rights

We hope to get musicians to come along at the high points. If you know any (or are one yourself) or would like to volunteer to help the vigil team, get in touch with Laura Clyde at: citizensrightsvigilmadrid@gmail

William Clarke has organised a T-shirt for the vigil which you can order here:

Some of us will be in London at the demonstration for a People's Vote on Saturday 23 when we will march with British in Europe for Citizens' Rights (this was organised a while back). Get in touch with me at if you can be there - and we will arrange to meet up.

Please sign up for the vigil and share with as many friends and colleagues as possible.