We are less than a year away from “Exit Day” and what that means for each of us is no clearer than it was the day after the referendum.
A number of the wider issues have been overlooked or ignored, seemingly for expediency’s sake, by the negotiating teams and the EU has skipped over some of them just as the UK has.
Whether looking at the areas affecting EU citizens that have been “agreed” or those that have been ignored, it seems likely that that the agreement, if there is one, will breach EU founding principles and the rights enshrined in its treaties.
Whatever the case may be, the draft treaty is certainly a deception and a disappointment for the millions of UK citizens who have made significant commitments based on the rights they have as EU citizens.
We have already identified a variety of problems. Some seem relatively straightforward on paper; in practice they are not, but protecting people’s rights has never been easy or expedient.
An example is British nationals born in a EU27 country and entitled to citizenship of that country. Unlike Northern Ireland citizens who only have to “assert” their right to Republic of Ireland nationality to retain their EU citizenship rights, these British nationals have to take the nationality of their country of birth, something that is not always possible unless they give up their British nationality.
The issue of continuous absence is another, equally serious, problem. Although the draft agreement does not compel any state to terminate residence status after 5 years of continuous absence, it does allow it. This compounds the usual problems about how to prove, or disprove, absence, as well as who is responsible for doing so.
Does your business operate across the EU, how will the change in VAT regulations impact your business? Does your business use a .EU domain name or another EU27 country domain name? Even if you simply trade on Ebay or Amazon how will the UK leaving the EU affect you?
Pan-EU recognition of professional qualifications continues for those that have them on “Exit Day” but what use is that if you have no right to work in the EU27 countries or provide cross-border services into EU27 countries?
Another group of people not being protected are those with property on the other side of a future UK/EU27 border.
Whether they bought a property with the intention of retiring there or used to live in that country, they have made “significant life choices” based on their EU citizenship rights, but they remain unprotected or have perhaps been deliberately ignored because it was too difficult for the negotiators.
These are but a few of many examples of various groups of people, with problems of varying gravity, in a variety of family, professional and geographic situations.
The EU Parliament has a crucial, and perhaps pivotal, role to play and not only in protecting the EU’s founding principles and the citizenship rights conferred by the various treaties. It is in the enviable position of being able to refer the treaty to the CJEU while it is in draft form, unlike ordinary citizens, or even groups of them, who have to wait until the treaty has been concluded.
It is possible for the lay person to identify some of these issues, but to understand their wider context and how they may be defended and contested, a better understanding of the complex web of national and international law, including EU law, is needed.
It is for this reason that we are crowd-funding so as to be able to commission our team led by John Halford at Bindmans LLP to set out the extent to which millions of British nationals are being marginalised and disenfranchised and how they may be protected.
It is work that is important not only if the UK leaves the EU but also in demonstrating the full complexity of the consequences of the simple binary choice offered to the UK electorate in the referendum.
We value your support.
If you share our concerns please make a donation to our Championing the Millions in the Margins CrowdJustice campaign.
Many people have contributed not once but multiple times to the various campaigns we have run and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make another contribution or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.
Many people have contributed not once but multiple times and we know that there are practical limits on what people can do. Whether you can make another contribution or not please spread the word among your contacts and on the social media.
Our aim is to help people see what’s going on, understand what they are, or aren’t, being told, and decide what is the best outcome for the UK: an outcome in the national interest, protecting fundamental citizenship rights and ensuring Parliament and not the executive is sovereign.
There is still a long way to go and there are no guarantees about what the outcome will be. The only thing that is certain is that if we stop trying we will lose.
To help protect our fundamental rights, and support Parliament in safeguarding them, please send us a donation so we can maintain our campaign and make your voice heard.
Please share this article as widely as you can, thank you very much for your support.
Published by Grahame Pigney on behalf of The People’s Challenge Ltd.