New Europeans lobby President Schulz in London on rights of EU citizens and Brits abroad


Martin Schulz MEP, President of the European Parliament
Martin Schulz MEP, President of the European Parliament

During his visit to London to meet with Prime Minister Theresa May and party leaders, President Schulz took representations from New Europeans on behalf of EU citizens in the UK and Brits abroad about their status and position post the Brexit vote in the UK.

Speaking on behalf of New Europeans, Roger Casale, Founder and CEO said:

"It is essential that the position of EU citizens in Britain and Brits living in other EU member states is sorted out before Artilce 50 is triggered and Brexit negotiations begin. We live in the twenty-first century not the interwar period when governments bartered the rights of whole population groups. Even if the legal position is that the rights of EU citizens are not considered to be acquired rights under the Vienna convention, there can be no doubt that from a moral and political point of view, the UK government and the EU institutions and member states should recognise them as such and move swiftly to put the necessary legal safeguards in place. As far as the status of EU citizens and Brits who relocate post the 23 June vote, New Europeans and others will continue to campaign for the right to free movement to be maintained in any Brexit deal."

 

We republish the full text of the letter below:

To the President of the European Parliament

22 September 2016

Dear President Schulz,

European citizens in the UK and British citizens living in the EU woke up on 24 June to find their world had been turned upside down by the Brexit vote. 

Since then, there has been a rise in hate crimes and racist attacks in the UK directed at EU citizens. This is fueled by the belief by some parts of the community, that the Brexit vote means they can tell EU citizens to leave the UK.

On 27 August, Arek Jozwik, a 40 year-old EU citizen from Poland was murdered in Harlow by a group of teenagers. The gang were described by one witness as "acting like a bunch of hyenas."

This is neither the Europe of the citizens that we wished for, nor the Britain we know and love. 

In my view, and in the view of many of my MPs from all parties in the UK Parliament, the British Government should now act swiftly to secure indefinite leave to remain for all EU citizens who were resident in the UK on 23 June.

This action should be taken unilaterally, and as soon as possible. As a matter of principle, it should be done before Article 50 triggers the start of the Brexit negotiations - thus securing the well-being of European citizens at a time when future plans and in some cases physical safety is under threat.

It is inappropriate in the twenty-first century for our fellow EU citizens (and Brits in the EU), exercising their rights as European citizens in good faith, to be treated as bargaining chips with their futures decided as part of a process of inter-governmental negotiation. We are not in the inter-war period and the Brexit negotiations are not the Congress of Versailles.

Likewise, EU Member States should move to regularise the position of British citizens resident in those states as soon as possible and independently of the Brexit negotiations. 

New Europeans is calling on the European Commission to draft template recommendations to EU member states to facilitate the steps each Member State may need to take to achieve this outcome.

Please find attached a motion to the European Parliament which calls for these steps to be taken. The motion was drafted by Dr Ruvi Ziegler, Lecturer in Law at the University of Reading and adviser to New Europeans.

New Europeans is Europe-wide campaign group promoting the rights of mobile EU citizens. In the UK, we act as the Secretariat of the All-Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on Freedom of Movement.

We are also working with the Scottish Parliament, the Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies and the Greater London Authority to secure support for action now to safeguard the rights of EU citizens and Brits abroad.

During your visit to London last year, we joined you on the panel discussion hosted by the NIESR. In Brussels we are based at the Maison des Associations Internationales.

We would be grateful for your support in securing the draft motion and we ask this in the name of the Europe of the Citizens that we have been building together for many years.

We must not allow EU citizens to become pawns in the Brexit negotiations. That would be to diminish the notion of European citizenship just when we should be building it up as something valuable and worth defending.

Longer-term, our work in the UK with the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Movement will promote a more informed debate and campaign for freedom of movement to be maintained in any Brexit deal between the EU and the UK. We will work to make sure that EU citizens who have come to the UK after the 23 June, or who come here in the future, will be able to retain many of the rights they currently enjoy but which are now in jeopardy (and the same for Brits abroad).

Tom Brake MP, Chair of the All-Party Parliamentary Group and I were sorry to miss you while you are in London and wish you every success with your meetings here. I hope we will have the opportunity to meet on a subsequent occasion.

We could of course also be delighted if you were able to accept an invitation to address the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Movement in the House of Commons in the near future.

In the meantime, we look forward to your support for our motion to the European Parliament.

We will keep in touch with you if we may through our Brussels office and continue to update you about our campaign.

With very best wishes.

Yours sincerely,

 

ROGER CASALE, Founder and CEO, New Europeans

cc Tom Brake MP, Chair, All-Party Parliamentary Group on Freedom of Movement

 

DRAFT MOTION TO THE EUROPEAN PARLIAMENT

Noting that that there is anxiety amongst citizens of other member states residing in the UK and among UK citizens residing elsewhere in the Union about their own and their families' situation following the 23rd June referendum.

Celebrating the role of Union citizens in the democratic life of the Union and deeply concerned about the adverse effects of the 23rd June referendum on their ability to continue to enjoy their acquired rights, including the right to remain in the member states where they reside.

Believing that, in the 21st century, it is unacceptable to treat individuals as ‘bargaining chips’ and that Union citizens’ rights should be guaranteed irrespective of the outcome of negotiations between the UK and Union institutions.

Calls on the UK to commit with urgency to guarantee that citizens of other member states residing in the UK will continue to enjoy their acquired rights, including the right to remain.

Calls on the Commission to draft recommendations to member states with a view to member states ensuring that UK citizens residing elsewhere in the Union will continue to enjoy their acquired rights, including the right to remain. 

 

 

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