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BREXIT

Europe & You: Boris our ‘best chance to stop Brexit’, EU Green Cards and cash for residency appointments

Our weekly Europe & You newsletter rounds up the most relevant stories from around our countries related to Brexit, the EU and other areas of interest. Here's the latest edition featuring Boris Johnson, an EU Green Card scheme, cash for residency appointments and many other stories.

Europe & You: Boris our 'best chance to stop Brexit', EU Green Cards and cash for residency appointments
Photo: AFP

Hi to all our readers,

Do you have any preferences on who becomes the next leader of the Conservative Party?

Many of the contenders are openly campaigning for a no-deal Brexit, perhaps unsurprising given that a poll of Tory members – who get to vote on who becomes the next PM – revealed a majority back leaving the EU with no deal.

What about Boris Johnson for PM? While the idea that BoJo could be the next leader of the country might make you wince – he said we are leaving the EU on October 31st “with or without a deal” – this opinion article might make you change your mind.

AFP

French President Emmanuel Macron said on Monday that he fully accepted his “bad guy” role in insisting on a shorter extension to Britain's tortuous exit from the EU, while insisting that October 31st is the “final, final deadline.” Here's what he had to say.

How would the idea of a European Green Card sound to you? It would allow you to keep the existing rights you have as an EU citizen, not least freedom of movement, which we look set to lose if Brexit goes through.

The campaign to bring in an EU Green Card won a timely boost this week as the campaign group behind it, the New Europeans picked up a prestigious European award.

Here's some more information about the EU green card scheme.

AFP

While Brexit limbo goes on, Brits around Europe are still taking steps to try to secure residency permits which they hope will make all the post-Brexit paperwork process a lot easier.

But in France their efforts are being hampered by authorities, understandably, not processing applications until they know what's happening in the UK and also by the long waiting times to get an appointment at the prefecture.

So this story about a black market in appointments for residency permits in certain parts of France will no doubt interest readers.

Here are a selection of other stories from around Europe that will interest you.

SpainThe villages in Alicante where there are zero British residents

France: The 39 maps you need to understand south-west France

Germany: Why Germany could soon have its first 'Green' Chancellor

There was a crucial election in Denmark this week which threw up a few surprises that could be a sign of the direction Europe is heading in, not least on the subject of immigration which resulted in a disastrous showing for the far-right populists. The article below contains everything you need to know.

Denmark: What we learned: Seven key takeaways from the Danish election

Sweden: What you love most about life in Sweden

Italy: Quiz – How well do you know your Italian geography?

A story from Switzerland will interest all those British citizens living around Europe who are unable to vote in their adopted country. Perhaps this idea to give foreigners a political voice could take off around Europe?

And just to round things off Theresa May finally stepped down as Conservative party leader on Friday to allow the race to replace her to officially begin. Some may have sympathy for her, others not so much, but this photo kind of sums her term as Tory party leader.

AFP

Remember, if you want to follow The Local more closely you can download our phone Apps from the Apple or Play store for both Android and Apple phones.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

Ben McPartland
[email protected]

Managing Editor, The Local Europe

Member comments

  1. It is interesting to compare Boris Johnson and Emmanuel Macron
    Johnson was born to a rich family and went to Eaton, an elite expensive public=private school. From there he went to Oxford following the standard route for senior ministers and prime ministers in the UK
    In contrast Macron was born to a wealthy family and went to an expensive private school. From there he went to the elite École Nationale d’Administration the standard route for senior ministers and presidents of France.
    There are great differences in their personalities. Johnson is often regarded as having a good sense of humour. At the moment he is guarded by minders to protect him from his one-liner gaffs.
    Macron is not noted for his sense of humour. He is famous for his ability for talking for hours on any subject without notes. How many are still awake at the end of this monologue is not recorded.
    Both of them have shot themselves in the foot which may lead to their ultimate political deaths. Johnson was the major force in the leave Brexit vote. Macron after supporting his rich friends alienated forgotten France resulting in the yellow vests protest.
    Politics is a dirty business.

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BREXIT

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Brexit really does mean that Britons are no longer EU citizens. Claudia Delpero looks at whether there's any other way they can keep their rights.

Is new court ruling the end for Britons fighting to remain EU citizens?

The Court of Justice of the European Union confirmed on Thursday that Britons lost EU citizenship when the UK left the EU, on 1st February 2020. 

It is the first time the EU’s top court has rules on the matter, after a number of legal cases challenged this specific Brexit outcome. The decision also sets a precedent should other countries decide to leave the bloc in the future. 

What has the EU Court decided?

The Court of Justice decided on a case brought by a British woman living in France.

Before Brexit, she could vote and stand as a candidate in her town of residence, Thoux. But after the UK withdrawal from the EU, she was removed from the electoral roll and excluded from the municipal elections that took place in March 2020, during the transition period.  

As the mayor refused her appeal to restore the registration, she took the case to the regional court in Auch, which agreed to request an interpretation of the rules to the EU top court. 

Julien Fouchet, the barrister supporting her and several other cases on the EU citizenship of British nationals, argued that the loss of EU citizenship and voting rights was disproportionate. It would also be contrary to the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights, given that the woman also lost her voting rights in the UK, having lived abroad for more than 15 years.

Alice Bouillez, who has lived in France since 1984 and is married to a French national, could have applied for French citizenship, but did not do so because she said “this was not necessary” before Brexit and, as a former UK official, she had taken an oath of allegiance to the Queen.

On Thursday the Court of Justice announced the decision about her case. The court ruled that the “possession of the nationality of a member state is an essential condition for a person to be able to acquire and retain the status of citizen of the Union and to benefit fully from the rights attaching to that status.”

The court therefore confirmed that British nationals automatically lost their EU citizenship as a result of Brexit and, as a consequence, Britons also lost their voting and electoral rights in municipal elections in the EU (unless the country where they live set different rules). 

What is EU citizenship?

EU citizenship was introduced by the Treaty of Maastricht of 1992, when borders were opening and the bloc was integrating economically after the end of the Cold War. 

Under the treaty, every person holding the nationality of an EU member state is a citizen of the Union. EU citizenship is additional and does not replace nationality, the treaty specifies. But this creates the first form of a transnational citizenship that grants rights across borders.

EU citizens have the right to access each other’s territory, job market and services under the principle of non-discrimination. If they are economically active, they have the right to reside in other EU states and be joined by family members, access healthcare at the same conditions of nationals (for emergency treatment also when travelling temporarily), obtain social security benefits and see their professional qualifications recognised.

Beyond free movement, at the core of EU citizenship there are also political rights, such as participating in the European Parliament election, voting and standing as candidates in municipal elections when living in other EU countries, receiving consular protection from other EU states outside the EU, and taking part in European Citizens’ Initiatives asking to the EU to legislate on certain matters. 

Which EU citizenship rights have Britons lost with Brexit? 

For British citizens who were living in the EU before Brexit, the Withdrawal Agreement protects some of these rights. Britons covered by deal have their residence, access to work and education, healthcare, social security and qualifications secured, but only in the country where they were living before Brexit.

But the right to free movement in other EU states, consular protection in third countries, and the political rights attached to EU citizenship were lost, the Court confirmed. 

For British citizens in the UK, the trade and cooperation agreement has preserved some social security rights and, in theory, the possibility to have professional qualifications recognized when moving to an EU country. These provisions however lack details and may take a long time before they work in practice. 

As the “European Union” no longer features on British passports, the possibility to access EU lanes at airports to skip passport control queues has also vanished. 

“The loss of those treasured rights has been clear to those of us living in the EU from the early days of Brexit. But for Brits in the UK, the realities of life outside the EU, and the consequences of Brexit, are only just dawning. Long queues at the borders, roaming charges, obstacles to working abroad, etc. are the new reality,” said Sue Wilson, Chair of the group Remain in Spain. 

While she said the court’s decision was “no real surprise,” she argued that “this is not the Brexit the public were promised, or that the majority voted for.”

Can British citizens get some of these rights back?

Julien Fouchet was disappointed at the Court decision and promised to continue the legal fight, bringing the case at the European Court of Human Rights (which is not an EU institution). 

Other two cases on the matter of EU citizenship for British nationals are still pending at the Court of Justice of the EU. One of them aims to determine whether EU citizenship is a “fundamental status” that cannot be removed but Thursday’s decision could have already provided the answer.

Another option to reconsider some of the rights is the renegotiation of EU-UK trade agreement, when it will be reviewed in 2025. 

Meanwhile, the EU is revising the rules for non-EU citizens living in EU countries on a long-term basis, making it easier to move across borders. 

Applying for citizenship is so far the only option to regain voting rights, although not all EU countries allow dual nationality. 

Sue Wilson, who has long campaigned for the UK to stay in the EU, said: “There is only one way to restore the loss of our rights, and that’s to rejoin the single market, rejoin the customs union, and eventually, rejoin the European Union… Until that day, we will continue to be second class citizens whose rights have been diminished for the sake of an ideology.”

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