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.