As you probably know, the3million, British in Europe and the In Limbo teams went to Brussels to lobby, inform and educate. When citizens of Europe went to Brussels to meet EU officials and MEPs to give them the human story of Brexit.
Our report from our series of meetings with the European Commission, the Council of Europe, Permanent Representatives of member states and last, but not least, Members of the European Parliaments (MEPs). “What an extraordinary week!”
The ‘last mile citizens’ lobby’; never has a phrase been so accurate and meant so much.
Our lobby visit to Brussels this week was perfectly timed to witness a potential deal in the making while briefing key decision makers at crunch time.
As always, we met with an impressive number of people from the EU parliament, the Commission and the Council, like a well organised ‘citizens’ guerrilla’, expertly and nimbly navigating the corridors of power in Brussels.
Credit goes to all those who could make it this time including Maria Llorente, Silvia Gonzalez, Francisca Oxley, Monique Hawkins, Anne-Laure Donskoy, Ilse Mogensen, Maike Bohn, Dimitri Scarlato, Stijn Smismams and Luke Piper.
Unlike the gloom we sensed the last time we were in Brussels before the summer, this time the excitement about an imminent breakthrough in the talks was palpable.
However, so were the doubts about whether a fledgling deal born in Brussels could survive the onslaught in Westminster and what the wider political repercussions of that would be. Leaving the wider political games aside, however, we made good progress on citizens’ rights.
We were seeking reassurances from the Parliament and the Council that what had been agreed on citizens’ rights under Article 50 would stand in case of no deal. We got that. There was widespread agreement that citizens’ rights would be prioritised and safeguarded even if there is no deal.
But we must continue working with the MEPs to ensure that this is done swiftly and in the most effective way. We continued to raise awareness of the shortcomings in the Withdrawal Agreement as well as in the UK's settled status scheme.
Those who we met with listened attentively to what we had to say and assured us that they will continue to push on our behalf over the coming weeks, regardless of whether a deal is agreed or not.
So, we have a long list of actions from our visit and, depending on what happens over the next days and, crucially, at the EU Council meeting next week, we will adjust our strategy for securing citizens’ rights in all eventualities.
Finally, it was great to be joined by the In Limbo project this time for a poignant event at the European Parliament last night which brought us all together and sent a powerful message to the MEPs. Our work is not done yet. Fasten your seat belts and stay with us as the ride could get rough!
At the same time, Molly Scott-Cato MEP and Seb Dance MEP had invited Elena Remigi and the wonderful In Limbo team to present the testimonies of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU in the European Parliament. Emotions ran high, as the stories of regular citizens showed the human cost of Brexit, with broken dreams and personal anxiety about the future.
Elena Remigi said: “I believed that the UK was my home but the hostility and red tape... the utter lack of compassion and respect made me realise that I don’t really belong here. Please remember we are not a statistic, we are not bargaining chips... please don’t let the European dream that we all believe in die.”🔷
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(This piece was originally published on the3million Newsletter.)