Nicolas Hatton, co-chair of the3million, on the successful meetings the group had with various EU institutions and MEPs this week, to whom they aired their worries over citizens’ rights in the UK, and why the3million rejects Theresa May’s current plans.
Last Tuesday, the3million and British in Europe started their 2-day lobby of the EU, with meetings with the European Commission, the Italian Permanent Representive and several MEPs across all parties.
Today, we continued with both Anne-Laure Donskoy (the3million) and Jane Golding (British in Europe) addressing the European Parliament on citizens’ rights, while meeting more Permanent Representative and MEPs to raise our concerns about the loss of rights and the risk of exposing 3 million EU citizens to the hostile environment under the error-prone Home Office.
Anne-Laure Donskoy spoke at the European Parliament at a special hearing about citizens’ rights and the key points of her speech are included in this two-page briefing paper (pdf - 4 minutes read).
Our main message is that citizens’ rights were not resolved by the December ‘agreement’ between the UK and the EU due to glaring shortcomings, omissions and ambiguities.
Therefore, the rights of some five million people still risk being severely limited.
As ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’, we are calling for all outstanding issues to be urgently addressed in Phase 2 in order to ensure that the Withdrawal Agreement will allow us to continue to live our lives as we always have.
Last but not least, we need your help to continue to campaign effectively. While we have tried to get funding from foundations, it has proven a slow and unreliable source of income, and we need to raise £2,000 in the next two weeks to cover for travel expenses and system costs, in preparation to open up the3million for membership.
If you can afford it, please donate today. Our future depends on it.
Not everyone can afford to donate so do not worry if you couldn’t support financially. You can get involved in many ways:
- Write to the NHS to protest against sharing our patient data with the Home Office;
- Email / Tweet your MP to tell them citizens’ rights are not sorted until our existing rights are fully protected by the Withdrawal Agreement. Vague reassurance by the Home Office, while detaining EU citizens in detention centres, won’t do.
What does Theresa May’s fight over citizens’ rights really mean?
A few days ago, The Telegraph quoted White Hall officials saying “Mrs May would not accept full freedom of movement during transition, and would instead insist that the EU accepts Britain’s proposal for a registration scheme for EU citizens arriving in the UK, who would then have no guarantees of being able to stay.”
This is what this means for us:
Theresa May’s refusal to accept full freedom of movement for EU citizens during the transition period will lead to utter chaos for the three million EU citizens already here.
Not allowing full freedom of movement will create two classes of EU citizens. One that will qualify to stay in the UK indefinitely through settled status and one that might become illegal at the end of the transition.
The two groups of EU citizens will be indistinguishable to banks, employers and landlords as application system for the 3 million EU citizens already here will not be rolled out until late this year.
With banks, landlords and employers facing high fines for providing services to illegal immigrants on the back of the Home Office’ Hostile Environment discrimination against EU citizens without proof of settled status will be unavoidable.
This is not fantasy, even without the chaos of two groups of EU citizens in the UK with different rights, landlords have already started to discriminate.
- Banks are also already more reluctant to do business with EU citizens on the back of uncertainty.
- Discrimination is already so prevalent that Paul Blomfield MP wrote a letter to David Davis urging him to tackle the issue.
- Thus, Theresa May creating a new group of EU citizens in the UK, with no right to work and stay post-transition period, indistinguishable from those who are, will cause utter chaos and will have real-life impact to the three million EU citizens who are already here.
(Source: @The3Million - Please retweet if you agree...)
Why are we still campaigning?
Now, many people are asking the3million why we are still campaigning when the UK and EU have seemingly agreed our future. We explain it in 11 points:
- Since the UK/EU Phase 1 Brexit agreement in December, British politicians have been telling the public that citizen’s rights are sorted.
We, therefore, co-signed the ECAS letter to Donald Tusk (President of the Council of Europe) raising our concerns.
- The EU negotiation guidelines set out to protect all EU citizens & their families. The UK/EU agreement on citizens’ rights currently falls short of this.
- It has become apparent that the joint report of 8 December will not fully cover the entire spectrum of rights which ALL EU citizens and their family members presently enjoy. This thread highlights some of the problems.
- e.g. It is unclear if non-EU family members who are currently not residing in the UK but want to return to their family in the UK post-Brexit cut-off date and also non-EU citizens who currently care for EU citizens in the UK are covered by the agreement.
- There are also issues which deliberately have been excluded from the agreement and still need resolving.
- The definition which is covered by the agreement is quite restricted. This will be hitting the most vulnerable EU citizens the most, e.g.:
- single parents
- people in precarious work arrangements
- Despite the UK promising to ditch the requirement of Comprehensive Sickness Insurance this finds no mention in the Joint Report. Something which is affecting 100,000s of stay-at-home parents and students.
- Neither has the UK commitment not to apply minimum earnings threshold, affecting many people in precarious work arrangements and part-time workers, found its way into the Joint Report.
- It is also worrying that the UK /EU agreement is moving the deportation assessment based on criminality to country level. This opens the door to disproportional (ab)use by Governments on both sides of the channel.
- We therefore fully subscribe to the asks of the ECAS letter, and we will keep on putting pressure on both sides of the Channel to clarify and agree on solutions during Phase 2 of the negotiations.
- Here is the link to the full letter with a very informative appendix.
The full thread was originally published on Twitter @the3million.
We’ll soon issue a final update on this week flurry of activities with a report on the lobby of the EU.
No mention of #citizensrights despite so many outstanding issues to be resolved ie. lifelong right to return for @The3Million & freedom of movement in the EU27 member states for @BritishInEurope, future spouse, voting rights, recognition of qualifications, cross border services https://t.co/QVO3JfVQXS— Nicolas Hatton (@NicolasHatton) February 2, 2018
Call to action - Write to the Chief Executive of NHS Digital about sharing our patient data with the Home Office.
“The Chair of the Health Committee, Sarah Wollaston has written to the Chief Executive of NHS Digital, Sarah Wilkinson, to request that NHS Digital withdraws from a memorandum of understanding with the Home Office which allows patients’ addresses to be shared for immigration tracing purposes.”
Let that sink in for a minute.
Our confidential patient data is shared with the Home Office by the NHS for ‘tracing purposes’...
To be continued...🔷
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