BRITISH IN ITALY NEEDS YOU

The Brexit negotiations are at a critical stage.  On 15th December the European Council (heads of government of the EU27) will decide if “sufficient progress” has been made for the negotiations to proceed to Phase 2 and discuss the future trade relationship.

There is a real risk of a political stitch-up to enable both sides to move on to discuss trade without our rights being fully guaranteed.  If that happens and Citizens’ Rights are discussed in parallel with trade and other matters, we will all become bargaining chips in the fullest sense of the term.

The biggest outstanding issues for UK citizens in Europe are:

  • Preserving the right of freedom of movement in the EU27.  At present the EU proposes that we should be allowed to live and work in the country where we are at the date of Brexit but NOT in any other country.  The UK disagrees and wants to preserve our right of freedom of movement throughout the 27 countries.  This is a critical issue for those of working age or under (80% of UK citizens in the EU), as many of them have built a European career based on being able to move from one country to another.
  • Relaxing the 2 year rule.  If you have lived in Italy for 5 years you are entitled to soggiorno permanente.  But if you leave for 2 years you lose that right – you might for example be working abroad or return to the UK to look after an ageing relative.  At present as a UK citizen exercising your EU citizenship rights you can simply return to Italy after your absence using your right of free movement.  When that goes with Brexit, you need a right to return if you are not to lose all your rights simply because you are away from home for over 2 years.  The UK has offered such a right of return to EU citizens in the UK if the EU preserves freedom of movement for us:  the EU has not accepted.
  • Preserving the mutual recognition of professional and other qualifications.  Although some continued recognition has been agreed the EU proposes to limit this and does not accept that all the qualifications presently recognised should continue to be so. This clearly affects many UK citizens currently living and working in Europe.
  • Family reunification.  The UK wants to restrict people’s rights to bring family, future spouses and the children of future relationships to live with them, and if they prevail it will probably be reciprocal.  So a young Briton resident in Italy who married someone from the UK, France or anywhere else would only be able to bring them to live with them if they met a high income requirement.
  • Ring-fencing any agreement that is made.  So far good agreements have been made on things like continuing the existing healthcare arrangements and continuing increases in the state pension.  However, without a ringfencing agreement now, these could disappear as the UK and EU27 barter over trade matters in the next round, and will certainly disappear  in the No Deal scenario and UK pensioners living here in Italy will be left to fend for   themselves on private healthcare with a frozen state pension.

 The European Commission (Barnier is the European Commission’s  Chief Negotiator – on the opposite side of the table to David Davis) does not back our claim to continued freedom of movement rights but the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group does.  The European Parliament has an ultimate right to veto the agreement, so we need to get as many MEPs as possible to back the Steering Group and defend our rights.

 

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

We urgently need volunteers to help with an e-mail mass lobby campaign around the 22nd to 25th November 2017 targeting their MEPs in both Italy and the UK calling upon them to ensure that there is no stitch-up.  You will be receiving template letters, one in Italian and one in English, that you can send or that you can adapt to contain a personal message, and a full list of all Italian and UK MEPs with their contact details.

The campaign is urgent because the EU will start drafting the resolution for the Council meeting in early December, so we want to time the campaign to finish in good time for our supporters’ views to be taken into account.

If you know a small to large group of people in your area of Italy it will make it easier for us if we could communicate through a key contact during this period.  This will avoid us having to deal with multiple queries and questions during the time and any enquiries can be funnelled through one person.   In addition, local groups can help one another, resolve issues locally, and give the necessary feedback we will need from the efforts.  However, this is not mandatory and whatever we need to do we will do.   If you are one person who wants to get involved in the lobby on your own then you are just as important.

Lastly, feedback is key and we will be asking you to feedback to us any responses that you receive from MEP’s and also actively encourage you to engage in conversation should anyone contact you back.  The feedback is vital to help us understand how successful the campaign will be.

This is a lobby being organised by British in Europe and UK Nationals living throughout Europe and the world will be participating.  Italy is an important region because it has a big say in how European affairs are conducted.   It is vital that we do our part!

If you are willing to help please contact us on britishinItaly@gmail.com and we will add you to the list of people who have already offered to lobby for us and we can communicate what to do, how to do it and what to say by email in the next couple of days.   Alternatively you can connect with Gareth Horsfall, our co-ordinator on Facebook Messenger.