Author: John K

THE JOINT NATIONALITY CAMPAIGN FOR  PRE-BREXIT BRITISH RESIDENTS IN SPAIN

THE JOINT NATIONALITY CAMPAIGN FOR PRE-BREXIT BRITISH RESIDENTS IN SPAIN

A 2018 CAMPAIGN IN THE SPANISH PARLIAMENT and EUROPEAN COURTS

The current agreement on Citizens Rights is clearly unsatisfactory. It does not conserve our current rights. Amongst other problems, it leaves us landlocked – i.e. if we, or our children, leave Spain to live elsewhere in the EU we lose the rights that come with our special status as pre-Brexit residents of the EU. This can be resolved by giving long-term UK residents in Spain the same right that is enjoyed by long-term Spanish residents in the UK – the right to joint nationality.

AIMS

The Joint Nationality Campaign, which has 20,000 supporters on change.org, seeks a special joint nationality law for UK citizens living in Spain before Brexit.

THIS IS BEING PURSUED TWO WAYS:

1/ The Spanish parliament is being asked to pass a “special case” joint nationality law.

2/ The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in Luxembourg is being asked to rule on whether Spain must, in any case, offer joint nationality.

The campaign has three fronts

1/ Political.  A proposición de ley for a special law offering joint nationality to long-term pre-Brexit UK residents in Spain is being drawn up. We will be seeking a political party (or several) to sponsor it through parliament. We also want town halls, regional parliaments, prominent individuals and political parties to express support.

2/ Legal. We are taking a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. One of Spain’s top law firms is doing this pro bono (without charging) and law professors from around Europe are forming an academic support group.

We are now urgently seeking volunteers to join the case. They would be UK citizens who are already going through the process of seeking Spanish nationality or have been offered it in the last six months. Our volunteers will explicitly refuse to renounce UK nationality. That will lead to their case being referred to the court in Luxembourg.

3/ Media.

  • Keep people in UK/Spain aware that the Citizens Rights have not been resolved.
  • Put pressure on legislators to pass a joint nationality law.

THE LEGAL CASE FOR JOINT NATIONALITY:

SUING SPAIN

Background

  • Spanish law allows Spaniards in the UK to claim joint nationality but bars UK citizens in Spain from doing so.
  • More than half of Spain’s 200,000 annual nationality concessions are for joint nationality (mostly Latin Americans, who enjoy this right for historical reasons).
  • Spanish law has recently made exceptions for Sephardic Jews and for International Brigade veterans from the Spanish Civil War (including those with UK citizenship), allowing them joint nationality.
  • UK citizens seeking Spanish nationality must pledge to renounce their UK citizenship. If they don’t, they can have Spanish nationality withdrawn.
  • Under-18s can’t renounce UK nationality – so children can’t legally become Spanish in any case.

Legal arguments

  • This set of rules is discriminatory, disproportional and provokes a “risk of loss” by taking rights away from EU citizens, especially in the Brexit situation.
  • Spain will reply by arguing that nationality is a sovereign issue.
  • We will argue that nationality stops being a sovereign issue when it contravenes EU rights.

STRATEGY

For a case to be referred to Luxembourg, it must first go to a Spanish judge – who refers it, or not, to the CJEU. This can be done in two ways:

1/ A UK citizen who has applied for Spanish nationality refuses to renounce their UK citizenship and is, therefore, turned down by Spain. That is then challenged in court and redirected to Luxembourg. The process of applying (and being able, at the end of it, to refuse to renounce UK citizenship) takes about two years. We are looking for people who applied a year or more ago

2/ Someone given Spanish nationality in the last six months (the “grace” period during which they are meant to go through the formal process of renouncing their citizenship in the UK) tells a court that they have decided that they will not now renounce UK nationality. That is then challenged in court and redirected to Luxembourg.

WHAT BREXPATS IN SPAIN CAN DO

  • Adopt and publicly back the campaign for joint nationality
  • Help find volunteers to join the law case
  • Ask town halls and regional governments to debate and vote for motions expressing public support for the proposición de ley on joint nationality
  • Raise awareness in the media

BREXPATS IN SPAIN has been explicitly asked to collaborate in this fight to allow us to qualify for joint nationality.  To make this happen we do need your support. 

You can email us at info@brexpats.es 

We continue working to defend our rights here in Spain.

Anne Hernández

President

Letter sent to Brexpats from Tom Blake – Lib Dem MP

Letter sent to Brexpats from Tom Blake – Lib Dem MP

RECEIVED TODAY FROM TOM BRAKE, LIB DEMS

Dear Anne Hernandez

Thank you for your letter regarding your organisation, Brexpats in Spain. May I first congratulate you on establishing and running such a successful group. Your work is incredibly valuable for many UK citizens who, as you rightly point out, are not given adequate information regarding Brexit and who feel disillusioned by the Government’s agenda for a hard Brexit.

So far, it has taken the Government 21 months to make any sort of progress in the negotiations with the EU. The process, characterised by arrogance and on-going splits in the cabinet, has been highly inefficient and embarrassing. It is worth noting that 24 hours after an outline withdrawal agreement had been struck (8 December 2017), David Davis made a remark jeopardising all of the progress made, by claiming that the agreement, covering citizen rights, the divorce bill and promises around the Irish border, was a “statement of intent” rather than something legally enforceable. This is just the latest example of the Government’s incapability of putting the national interest ahead of their party’s interest.

That is why it’s important for the Liberal Democrats to give not only Parliament but also the British people a say on the final deal. We are pushing the Government for a public vote on the deal at the end of the negotiations, so people are given a choice to vote for that deal or to remain in the EU (amendment 120 to the Bill). The British people should be allowed to decide, in a referendum, whether it is the right deal for them, their families, their jobs and our country. As we all know by now, the ‘Leave’ campaign was based on lies, such as an extra £350 million a week for the NHS, new trade deals ready to be signed on the day of departure from the EU, and an ability to keep the exact same benefits as the UK currently has inside the Single Market and Customs Union once we are outside. These lies have now been exposed and it’s only fair to give the British people a “Vote on the Facts”. We welcome Sadiq Khan, London’s Labour Mayor, to our cause and hope that more grown-up politicians on all sides will join us.

The Liberal Democrats have also tabled amendments and are campaiging in order to ensure that all the existing rights of UK citizens residing in the EU and EU citizens residing in the EU are protected. It is unacceptable that these groups have been used as a bargaining chip by the Government in negotiations and the unfair uncertainty which is being brought to many people’s lives must end. I and the Liberal Democrats have campaigned extensively within Parliament in order to secure these rights.

Be reassured that I will continue to fight against a damaging, extreme version of Brexit. I will fight to uphold the rights of Brexpats currently in Spain and I hope that this response has reassured your members that the Liberal Democrats are on your side and fighting against Brexit back in the UK.

Regards

Tom Brake, MP
Liberal Democrat for Carshalton and Wallington
0208 255 8155

Brexit: European Commission publishes draft Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement

Brexit: European Commission publishes draft Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement

Brussels, 28 February 2018

The European Commission has today published the draft Withdrawal Agreement between the European Union and the United Kingdom.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement translates into legal terms the Joint Report from the negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government on the progress achieved during phase 1 of the negotiations, published on 8 December 2017, and proposes text for those outstanding withdrawal issues which are mentioned in, but not set out in detail, in the Joint Report. It also integrates the text on the transition period, based on the supplementary negotiating directives adopted by the Council (Article 50) on 29 January 2018.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement consists of six parts – including introductory provisions, citizens’ rights, other separation issues such as goods placed on the market before the withdrawal date, the financial settlement, transitional arrangements, and institutional provisions – and a protocol on Ireland / Northern Ireland. This protocol operationalises the third option outlined in the Joint Report, in order to avoid a hard border on the island of Ireland. This is the fall-back solution of the Joint Report, which applies in the absence of other agreed solutions. This draft protocol does not prejudge discussions on the other two options.

The draft Withdrawal Agreement is published online in accordance with the Commission’s transparency policy. The Commission has presented the draft Withdrawal Agreement now to first allow for time for consultation with the Member States and the European Parliament and, subsequently, for negotiation with the United Kingdom. Given that the Withdrawal Agreement needs to be agreed and ratified before the withdrawal of the United Kingdom, it is important to leave sufficient time for negotiation.

Next steps

The draft Withdrawal Agreement will now be sent to the Council (Article 50) and the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group for discussion, before being transmitted to the United Kingdom for negotiation.

The European Council (Article 50) has called on the United Kingdom to provide further clarity on its position on the framework for the future relationship, with a view to its meeting on 22 and 23 March, where it is expected to adopt additional guidelines.

The overall Article 50 Withdrawal Agreement will need to be concluded by the Council (Article 50), the European Parliament, and the United Kingdom according to its own constitutional requirements.

The United Kingdom will leave the European Union on 30 March 2019.

Background

On 15 December 2017, the European Council (Article 50) welcomed the progress achieved during the first phase of negotiations as reflected in the Commission’s Communication and the Joint Report of 8 December 2017.

It called on the Commission as Union negotiator and the United Kingdom to complete the work on all withdrawal issues, including those not yet addressed in the first phase, to consolidate the results obtained, and to start drafting the relevant parts of the Withdrawal Agreement. It stressed that negotiations in the second phase can only progress as long as all commitments undertaken during the first phase are respected in full and translated faithfully into legal terms as quickly as possible.

The European Council (Article 50) guidelines of 29 April 2017 as well as the general principles and the procedural arrangements for the conduct of the negotiations established in the Council negotiating directives of 22 May 2017 continue to apply in their entirety to this phase of the negotiations.

draft_withdrawal_agreement