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British in Europe Urges the UK to Clarify its Position on Citizens' Rights

22 June 2017
by Bremain in Spain -- last modified 22 June 2017

British in Europe wishes David Davis well in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, which stared on 19 June. The group would like to remind him that he and the UK government are also there to represent the 1.2 million UK citizens most directly impacted by Brexit - those who live in the EU and have been in limbo for a year, waiting for talks to start.


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Bremain in Spain, a group campaigning for the rights of British citizens in Spain, is part of British in Europe, the largest coalition of UK citizens in Europe. British in Europe wishes David Davis well in the Brexit negotiations with the European Union, which start today. The group would like to remind him that he and the UK government are also there to represent the 1.2 million UK citizens most directly impacted by Brexit - those who live in the EU and have been in limbo for a year, waiting for talks to start. They expect him to stick to Theresa May's repeated pledge to make sorting out these citizens' post-Brexit rights - based on reciprocity - her highest priority.

While the government has been busy in parliament with the Brexit bill and holding elections, British in Europe has been talking directly to the EU negotiators who have consulted on their negotiating directives, which they have changed to take on board many of the coalition's concerns.

Jane Golding, the Berlin-based Chair of British in Europe, said: "The result is that the EU offer now gives us almost everything we need and abides by a core principle which both sides should respect - that the rights of citizens in place before Brexit (including the three million EU citizens in the UK) should remain unchanged. We applaud that, as well as the EU's transparency in this matter. For the past year, Theresa May has repeatedly refused to make a unilateral offer to the three million EU citizens in the UK. She has said this is to protect the rights of the 1.2 million UK citizens in Europe but we have no detailed information on what that might mean. The EU offer gives plenty of detail and goes almost all the way to guaranteeing all our rights but everything depends on how the UK decides to respond. We expect the UK, which has said it will be guided by the principle of reciprocity, to respond with similar magnanimity."

Fiona Godfrey, Luxembourg-based spokesperson for British in Europe, added: "We and the three million EU citizens in the UK must not be used as bargaining chips or for political point-scoring. With that in mind, British in Europe also urges Mr Davis to persuade EU negotiator, Michel Barnier, that an early agreement on our rights and those of the three million EU citizens in the UK should be ring-fenced against the possible future failure of the other aspects of the withdrawal agreement. The lack of ring-fencing simply prolongs the uncertainty for up to five million UK and EU citizens."

Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, adds: "We are impatient to hear exactly what Theresa May's 'generous offer' for EU/UK citizens is going to look like. It seems unlikely that it will even come close to the generous offer that has already been outlined in detail by the EU. All our discussions with the EU have been fully transparent - it's time the UK government behaved the same way."

British in Europe is a coalition of a dozen volunteer UK citizens' groups across the European Union.

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