British in Italy report on the meeting with Sottosegretario di Stato del Ministero degli Affari Esteri, Guglielmo Picchi, in Rome 26th November 2018

In the afternoon Delia Dumaresq and Jeremy Morgan from British in Italy met Guglielmo Picchi, Sottosegretario at the Ministero degli Affari Esteri in his office at the Farnesina.  Sottosegretario Picchi is a close associate of Matteo Salvini.  He also has spent a good deal of time in the UK and has dual nationality and a British born daughter.  The meeting lasted 45 minutes which we thought was good for a man as busy as Picchi.

We expressed our main concerns at this time only a few months from Brexit day and the lack of preparation in Italy for the possibility that the UK Parliament would vote down the deal, and explained that we would be here illegally on 30th March 2019 unless some steps were taken.  In order of preference these steps should be either the EU and UK ring-fencing the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement or Italy legislating unilaterally.  Like almost all the Italian politicians and officials we have met before Picchi, he reassured us that the Italians would like British nationals to stay, both because they are well disposed to us and because there are many more Italians in the UK.  He pointed out, correctly, that the Italian decreto procedure does enable them to legislate very quickly, but we answered that it is not enough simply to have laws in place:  it takes time for circulars to be issued, for computer systems to be changed, for the training of those in the comuni, regioni, ASL etc who will have to implement the new rules etc.   What would happen to the person who needed to renew a tessera or get medical treatment at the beginning of April?   His response to that was an interesting idea, viz that if there is No Deal there should be a transition period in Italy during which UK citizens should continue to have their existing rights protected while a new system is legislated for and worked through.  He made it clear that he was not in favour of any action until after the UK Parliament vote, and said that if the Withdrawal Agreement is voted down “You have my number” and made it clear that he would be happy to have a further meeting in that eventuality.

We also discussed the issue of citizenship as well.  Here he was less well-informed and thought that the original decreto sicurezza extension of time from 2 to 4 years had been reversed in the Senate.  However he also said that any changes the law made would take some time to work through as they would require “decreti attuativi” which would take many months and in the meantime the procedure would remain as before.

Overall it was a good first meeting in which we established a good rapport and a communication channel to the heart of government.

This is a short review of the meeting, but should British in Italy meet Sottosegretario Picchi again we will update you here on the website, on our Facebook page and our Twitter account.

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