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

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