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Time for action on our citizens' rights

 
Nearly four months of the Brexit transition period have passed and most Britons in the EU are still in the dark about how we will have to register as third-country nationals protected by the Withdrawal Agreement - and about how our rights will be protected in practice. 
 

Dear Briton in Europe,

The weeks since Easter have not been an easy time for the 1.2 million UK citizens in the EU, aside from the health emergency. We are worried about the rapidly shrinking transition period, there are concerns in some countries as to how families hit by Covid-19 will be able to meet financial requirements, and we lack clarity about how we are going register our status under the Withdrawal Agreement  in most Member States.

To make matters worse, our rights, and those of our EU friends in the UK, seem to have become political footballs again due to the increasingly acrimonious stalemate in the EU/UK trade negotiations. The EU has launched an infringement procedure over the UK's treatment of EU citizens. In parallel, the British government has sent the Commission a letter, complaining about various aspects of implementation by the EU countries.

It is important to remember that, even if there is no trade deal, this does not mean a No Deal for citizens' rights, which have been guaranteed by the ratified and binding Withdrawal Agreement. However, mechanisms must be put into place as soon as possible to ensure the correct implementation of the WA across EU countries and to enable us to get on with our lives.

Here are some of the issues that we are bringing to the table with our interlocutors (the Commission, HMG, EU Member States, the European Parliament, Westminster):

a) The state of play of the implementation of the WA in each EU Member State.
 
b) How countries will assess the conditions under the WA and in particular, the need to consider the impact of the Covid-19 crisis when setting the financial requirements, where applicable, especially in constitutive registration systems (like France).

c) Whether we can combine our WA status with equivalent third-country-national statuses that grant mobility rights, because the WA status does not provide any.
 
d) The extension of application windows for UK citizens, to compensate for the time lost due to the health emergency (including Britons wishing to move to the EU during the transition period).

e) The amendment of the European Commission's decision not to distinguish between permanent and temporary residence on the ID card which will be given to Britons in the EU.

See below a quick update of other BiE news and an entry about our written evidence for the House of Commons Select Committee on the Future Relationship with the EU. Finally, we include information about a survey organised by the BiE group, France Rights, and about the draft law which suggests that Germany will take the (much less demanding) declaratory route for registering UK citizens. Our congratulations to British in Germany for their fantastic work which has contributed to this decision.

Take care and best wishes,

BiE Steering Group


PS: Our GoFundme crowdfunder remains open. Our thanks to those who have donated over the last couple of months.
 
BiE News
 
On 12 May, British in Europe wrote to the PM and his Ministers asking for the recently announced quarantine policy to be reviewed as it was discriminatory towards Britons living in most EU countries. The policy was reviewed and travellers from all EU countries will face quarantine: not good for any of us, but at least it is not discriminatory!

On the same day, British in Europe and several of our groups co-signed a letter asking the Leader of the Opposition, Sir Keir Starmer, to press for an extension to the transition period.

 
Watch the talk given by Jane Golding at the European Parliament's EU/UK Friendship Group webinar on citizens' rights on 28 April.

Click on the photo below to read Jane Golding's latest article.

British in Europe has been asked to supply written evidence to this new House of Commons Select Committee, which has replaced the Committee for Leaving the EU to which we frequently gave written and oral evidence.

Over the last month, our Steering Group, with support from our EU-wide affiliated groups, has been gathering information to map the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement across the EU-26 and to produce a detailed sixty-nine-page report which was submitted to the Committee this week. This will be shared once published and, as well as communicating the concerns of UK citizens to MPs at Westminster, will inform our advocacy with the Commission, the European Parliament and governments of Member States.

The report included initial reactions to the publication last week of the 
EU Guidance Note on Citizens' Rights .
 
NEWS FROM FRANCE RIGHTS
 
Over the next few months, France Rights, the French 'arm' of British in Europe, will be focusing on two things: continuing to provide comprehensive citizens' rights' information on our website and news updates on our blog and Facebook page; monitoring the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement in France. 

To help us monitor implementation and to establish our priorities, we want to find out how British people living in France feel about having to go through the process of applying for residence and for a new card (France has adopted a constitutive system). We also want to know their particular concerns and what would make them feel more confident about tackling the application process. 
 
Yesterday we launched a survey which had over twelve hundred responses in the first twelve hours, so it has clearly touched a chord ... If you live in France and have not yet taken part, please do so - the more participants, the better the data! The questionnaire is anonymous, and we won't receive any identifying details or your email address. You can find it here: https://bit.ly/FranceRightsCdSSurvey
 
We plan to run more surveys in the coming weeks on different subjects, so watch this space.
 
 
Positive news on future status…

Despite the impact of Covid-19 and the lack of progress on a future EU/UK trade deal, British in Germany e.V. has continued discussions with the German authorities at national and regional levels, negotiating the future status of UK citizens living in Germany. The BiG advocacy team has had face-to-face meetings with representatives across the country, pushing hard for a declaratory or registration system rather than the more demanding constitutive system.

On 24th March 2020, the Bundesministerium des Inneren (BMI – equivalent of the UK Home office) published a Gesetzentwurf (Draft Law) describing how Germany proposes to enact the Withdrawal Agreement rights of UK citizens after the end of the transition period. British in Germany was invited to give formal input on this draft. Although this Gesetzentwurf is not a final version of the law and may be modified during review stages, it suggests that Germany should adopt, as standard, an approach known as “declaratory”.

If passed into law, this would mean that the rights of all Britons registered and living in Germany at the end of Transition would be considered confirmed. The process would merely require visiting the local Foreigner’s Office (Ausländerbehörde) to register and be issued with an individual document (Aufenthaltsdokument) to confirm these rights. Those with an UE Permanent Residence Certificate (Daueraufenthaltsbescheinigung-EU) would be able to swap this for the new document.

This is good news and something that British in Germany has worked tirelessly for over the last three years, collecting a wide range of case studies to show that a declaratory system would be best for both UK citizens and the German authorities.

The German decision is also evidence that the huge amount of work on citizens’ rights, that so many of us are putting in across the EU, is worthwhile and really can make a difference. 

Click here for further detail:  https://britishingermany.org/2020/04/20/posttransitionupdate/
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