|Photo: El Movimiento Europeo|
|Miguel Ángel Benedicto, Michael Harris, Eugenio Nasarre, Chris Dottie, Ignacio Morais, Soraya Rodríguez|
Eugenio Nasarre, president of el Movimiento Europeo, introduced the meeting by highlighting the European values of tolerance and cooperation which have enabled sixty years of peace throughout most of Europe after centuries of conflict.
Michael Harris, vice-president of EuroCitizens, outlined the aims of the group: to fight for the European citizenship rights of UK nationals in Spain and for the rights of Spaniards in the UK as well as for a more open and tolerant Europe. He mentioned some of the most pressing concerns of Britons such as job security, higher education in the UK, healthcare and pensions. He requested assistance from the influential people present to guarantee the futures of the 3 million Europeans in the UK and the 1.2 million Britons in the EU.
Christopher Dottie, president of the British Chamber of Commerce in Spain, spoke about the implications of Brexit for the economy and for employment. He highlighted the number of British companies in Spain, the level of British investment and the number of jobs it created. He expressed regret about the UK leaving the UK, but said that business people should accept the new situation and get on with the job.
Ignacio Morais, a pro-European activist living in London, explained the position of Spanish and other European citizens in the UK. He described the difficult atmosphere for immigrants in some parts of Britain, with a marked increase in hate crimes since the referendum. He talked about the problems EU citizens face to get Permanent Residence, due to the complex nature of the process and specifications such as the need to have private health insurance and prove a regular income. This for groups like full-time parents, handicapped people and pensioners is virtually impossible.
In the question and answer session, the following topics were discussed: the inevitabilty or not of Brexit and the reasons for it happening; the lack of dual British/Spanish nationality; the situations of Scotland and Northern Ireland; human rights, European rights and the European Court of Justice. All the speakers from the floor expressed warm support for our cause and for that of Europeans in the UK.
EuroCitizens would like to thank the Movimiento Europeo for all their support and for organising the meeting and to the Centro Riojano for hosting it. The event gave us an excellent opportunity to explain the difficult situation of British and Spanish citizens living under the shadow of Brexit.