Bremain in Spain Responds to the Third Round of Brexit Negotiations
Chair of British in Europe, Jane Golding, comments: "Both parties agreed that frontier workers should be covered by any agreement but we're concerned that this definition is too narrow to cover the myriad ways in which UK citizens work cross-border. And it seems that frontier workers will not be able to change the country in which they work. This may be consistent with the current EU position on free movement but it means that Brexit will alter the daily lives of UK citizens in the EU who work cross-border. And, without freedom of movement, the daily lives of all UK citizens in the EU will be altered."
Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, comments: "Before the negotiations even started this week, both sides were suggesting that the expectations for progress were low. We saw little to convince us otherwise. The EU has constantly stated that the burning issues of citizens' rights, Ireland's border and the exit bill must come first, and that talks on any future relationship cannot start until 'sufficient progress' has been made on these issues. However, the UK continues to want to focus on trade talks instead. When I listened to David Davis and Michel Barnier speaking at the press conference on Thursday 31 August, it was hard to believe that they were discussing the same negotiations. While Davis insisted there had been 'concrete progress', Barnier said there had been 'no decisive progress on the key issues'."
She continues: "One of those key issues is citizens' rights. We have repeatedly been told we are number one priority. Yet, after the third set of negotiations, we are not much further forward. While it's encouraging that both sides have agreed to protect the rights of frontier workers, as well as existing healthcare rights, it's just words at this stage. Many areas exist where agreement is yet to be reached. If and when agreements are reached, what next? The EU's policy has always been that nothing is agreed until everything is agreed. With thorny issues not even close to being resolved, such as the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, little has really changed."
British in Europe maintains that the UK must guarantee the permanent residence status of EU citizens in the UK - and ensure that the guarantee is genuinely for life - otherwise the EU will not agree to continuing rights of free movement for UK citizens in the EU.
Jane Golding suggests: "It's nonsense for David Davis to claim that the UK is being more flexible and pragmatic than the EU on the fundamentals. The pragmatic approach would be to guarantee the EU citizens permanent residence in the UK - not make them apply for a new, lesser status. This is a finite group of people that is already integrated and contributing to the UK. It's not about immigration, and even if it were, we know that concerns about EU immigration are a red herring if the immigration figures and international student figures released last week are anything to go by."
British in Europe is, however, pleased that the third round of negotiations saw pension aggregation confirmed and that discussions concerning mutual healthcare arrangements for pensioners and others in receipt of benefits will continue. Agreement was also reached on continued use of EHIC cards for those already living in another EU country but exactly who would benefit from healthcare arrangements is unclear. The technical note is obtuse about whether it is necessary to be in receipt of a pension and healthcare from the UK before exit, or what exactly 'in the EU 27 on exit day' means.
Sue Wilson says: "Despite some examples of progress, Bremain in Spain members remain concerned. Some have been reassured by the progress made but many are still wary and distrustful of anything the UK government is promising. They will be unconvinced until they see it written in black and white, signed and protected. At the risk of sounding like a broken record, we are still being used as bargaining chips and continue to live with fear and uncertainty. We need a deal on citizens' rights as a matter of urgency and we need it to be protected in the event of no deal."
She concludes: "So, the third round of negotiations is over, 15 months have passed since the referendum, yet we have not travelled so far. Bremain in Spain will continue its work to protect the rights of all UK citizens - in Spain and across Europe, as well as EU citizens in the UK. The best way to achieve this aim however, is to stop Brexit altogether."
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Notes for editors
For further information please contact
Sue Wilson, Chair
Tel: + 34 696 056 328
Deputy Press Officer
Tel: + 44 7549 504281
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