RSS FEEDS

Title Author Display Name Image Summary Body Path Post date
Guy Verhofstadt: ‘Big problems’ still exist with UK Withdrawal Agreement Martin Banks

The chair of Parliament's Brexit Steering Group said one pressing problem was that EU citizens in the UK currently had “no physical document” to prove their legal right to remain in the country after Brexit.
 

The chair of Parliament's Brexit Steering Group said one pressing problem was that EU citizens in the UK currently had “no physical document” to prove their legal right to remain in the country after Brexit.
 

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Speaking in Parliament on Thursday, Verhofstadt also raised the “risk of deportation” that “some UK government members” have warned could happen for those EU citizens who do not apply for Settled Status after Brexit.

He told the Constitutional Affairs Committee, “That is not acceptable.”

In a vote, the Committee gave its consent to the Withdrawal Agreement (WA), which was subsequently signed off on Friday by Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel, her Council counterpart.


RELATED CONTENT


The European Parliament’s plenary next Wednesday is expected to also give its consent to the deal and the UK will then formally exit the EU on 31 January.

Verhofstadt, who said he will stand down as chair of Parliament's Brexit Steering Group (BSG), highlighted his and the institution's ongoing Brexit priorities, notably concerning citizens’ rights.

He pointed to the way the UK authorities “have implemented the agreement” including the government's Settled Status scheme.

He told the meeting, “We clearly need to continue scrutiny of the way the Withdrawal Agreement is implemented in the coming months.”

“Personally, I find this a very sad moment today, but I have to be open with you. We are not voting for or against Brexit. That is not the choice today; it’s the choice between an orderly Brexit or a hard Brexit” Guy Verhofstadt MEP

The Belgian MEP said, “There is no European Parliament oversight on this but this will be necessary because we still have problems about the way the UK is implementing the deal and, also, how some EU governments have implemented the Withdrawal Agreement too.”

 “For instance, 12 Member States have chosen a registration system for UK citizens in Europe. This is easy as citizens just have to register. But other Member States have gone for an application system, like the UK has done for EU citizens in Britain.”

“This system, being applied by some Member States, creates a far more heavy burden on citizens.”

Verhofstadt said that Parliament had identified “six concrete problems” with the Withdrawal Agreement, “including three big problems.”

He added, “Personally, I find this a very sad moment today but I have to be open with you. We are not voting for or against Brexit. That is not the choice today; it’s the choice between an orderly Brexit or a hard Brexit. Let us be clear about this.”

The BSG, he said, will now be replaced by the “UK Coordination Group” after 1 February, chaired by German EPP member David McAllister.

“This will face another difficult task - the future relationship with the UK.”

“Brexit is no longer the settled will of the UK people: some 53 percent of those voted for in the UK election voted for parties who demanded another EU membership referendum, a majority” Richard Corbett MEP

He added, “I still hope there will come a day when, and I and the likes of Richard Corbett may not be here for it, we will see UK MEPs back in this Parliament.”

He paid tribute to British MEPs on the Committee, saying, “I am pretty sure we will miss their knowledge and capacity to find solutions to things which the UK has shown as an EU member over the last few decades.”

A clearly sombre Corbett, the longest-serving member of the committee, voiced “great personal sadness that my last act is to vote on withdrawal of my country from the EU. But I also speak with a sense of outrage that it came to this.”

“Brexit is no longer the settled will of the UK people: some 53 per cent of those voted for in the UK election voted for parties who demanded another EU membership referendum, a majority. Polls show if we’d had another referendum we would have stayed in the EU.”

Irish MEP Mairead McGuinness said that after the furore of Brexit, “I hope people can now listen and show respect to each other. I voted in favour of this resolution with a heavy heart. This is a bad day’s work. I hope that the UK (exit) is a one off.”

Danuta Hubner, a Polish EPP MEP, said, “The Withdrawal Agreement will now become law and this is a very emotional and painful moment for me. Parliament will continue to be constructive in our approach though.”

“I regret that the UK is leaving and hope citizens in the UK and Europe will not pay the price of Brexit. Our work here though is not over and Parliament’s task is to deal with what will certainly be tough negotiations with the UK.”

She went on, “Time will be factor because we have just eight months to finalise the trade talks. I hope both sides will faithfully implement all provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement. We will certainly keep an eye on things to ensure that citizens don’t have their rights taken away.”

“The UK says it does not want to extend the transition period so there is a real possibility of another cliff edge on 1 January 2021. The chance of this still exists and we must be ready for this. My sincere hope is that we can find a deal on the best possible relationship,” said the BSG member.

Committee chair Antonio Tajani, meanwhile, led tributes to the departing UK MEPs, saying, “This is a historic event albeit a sombre one. A Member State is leaving. This is not a moment for celebration though we must respect the sovereign decision even if it is one I deeply regret.

“The EU, since its inception, has striven for closer integration so the UK exit is the antithesis of this principle. The EU, throughout the Brexit process, has striven to ensure this causes as little disruption as possible.”

The Italian EPP deputy is keen, he said, that the UK and EU “bring certainty to the 4.5m citizens most directly affected - those in the EU and in Europe.”

He said, “Their rights should not be sacrificed for this deal. The Good Friday Agreement must also be respected to ensure there is no hard border on the island of Ireland. The UK must also settle its financial obligations to the EU and this committee will closely follow proceedings.”

“We should now focus on the next stage of the talks which I hope will be balanced, fair and will work in both parties’ interests.”

He thanked committee members Verhofstadt and Danuta Hubner who “have done their utmost to ensure we reach a positive solution.”

“I want to voice to our UK colleagues my gratitude for their huge commitment and positive contribution to this committee’s work.”

He concluded by saying, “You are not only MEPs but friends of ours. You will be missed.”

Some UK members, including Labour’s Corbett, were given a standing ovation.

/articles/news/guy-verhofstadt-%E2%80%98big-problems%E2%80%99-still-exist-uk-withdrawal-agreement Fri, 24 Jan 2020 17:36:59 +0100
Movers and Shakers | 24 January 2020 Mia Bartoloni & Megan MacDougall

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our Movers and Shakers column. 

Keep track of developments in the European institutions and public affairs with our Movers and Shakers column. 

Today’s Movers & Shakers are about, high- level appointments at the European Commission, European Economic and Social Committee President nomination, Greece's first female president announced, latest commission and public affairs appointments, and more!

European Parliament 

Committees and Delegations 

Budgets Committee (BUDG) 
Gunnar BECK (ID, DE) who was previously a substitute, has left the committee. He is replaced by Jörg MEUTHEN. 

Constitutional Affairs Committee (AFCO) 
Gunnar BECK (ID, DE) joins as a substitute, replacing Jörg MEUTHEN who leaves the committee. 


Stay ahead of the game by subscribing to our weekly newsletter.


European Commission 

Directorates-General 

Budget (BUDG) 
Lourdes ACEDO MONTOYA replaces Andreas SCHWARZ in the role of Head of Union B1 (Multiannual financial framework). 

Communications Networks, Content and Technology (CNECT) 
Kilian GROSS replaces Lucilla SIOLI as Head of Unit A2 (Technologies and Systems for Digitising Industry). SIOLI remains Director of Directorate A (Artificial Intelligence and Digital Industry). 

Economic and Financial Affairs (ECFIN) 
Werner RÖGER replaces Mary Veronica TOVŠAK PLETERSKI as Director of Directorate B (Investment, Growth and Structural Reform) in an acting capacity. RÖGER also remains Head of Unit B3 (Models and Databases). 

European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations (ECHO) 
Paraskevi MICHOU has been appointed Director General replacing Monique PARIAT. MICHOU (EL) was previously Director General at DG HOME (Migration and Home Affairs) from 2018-20 and served in several other Directorates General including DG JUST (Justice and Consumers) and DG INFSO (Information Society and Media). 
Ilkka SALMI replaces Johannes LUCHNER as Director of Directorate B (Disaster Preparedness and Prevention). 
Rosa CIOTOLA is the new HR Business Correspondent, replacing Silke WRAGGE. 
Petra PEREYRA replaces Mihela ZUPANCIC as Head of Unit A4 (Communication) in an acting capacity. ZUPANCIC becomes Head of Unit E1 (International and Interinstitutional Relations, Legal Framework) replacing Charles PIROTTE. 

Migration and Home Affairs (HOME) 
Monique PARIAT has been appointed Director General replacing Paraskevi MICHOU. PARIAT (FR) was previously Director General at DG ECHO (European Civil Protection and Humanitarian Aid Operations) and before that Deputy Director General at DG AGRI (Agriculture and Rural Development). 

Research and Innovation (RDT) 
Ann-Sofie RONNLUND replaces Filomena CHIRICO as Head of Unit A2 (Programme Analysis and Regulatory Reform) in an acting capacity. 


Want to know more? Click here for more information on our Dods People EU service.



EU Institutions and Agencies 

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) 

On Wednesday, Jacek KRAWCZYK (PL), current President of the Employer’s Group, was nominated by his group to become the next president. His nomination still needs to go to a formal vote among all 350 EESC members in October. 

European Banking Authority 
Gerry CROSS has been nominated to take over as Executive Director. The appointment is pending on Parliament’s approval. 

Public Affairs 
United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) 
Ghada FATHI WALY has been appointed as the next executive director. 
 
The Community of European Railway and Infrastructure Compenies (CER) 
Andreas MATTHA selected as the acting chair of its management committee. 

Got a new appointment you would like us to include in our next newsletter? Click here to let us know about it! 


National News 

Brexit 
The Withdrawal Agreement Bill has been passed through both Houses in Parliament, receiving royal assent on Wednesday. 

Bulgaria 
The Socialist Party (PES) filed a motion of no-confidence this week against the governing coalition between GERB (EPP) and nationalist alliance United Patriots (ECR). However, it remains unlikely that there will be a majority in support of it. 

Czech Republic 
Minister for Transport Vladimir KREMLIK was dismissed early this week. Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Industry and Trade Karel HAVLICEK will take over the transport portfolio. 

Greece 
Katerina SAKELLAROPOULOU has been elected as Greece’s first female head of state, for a five-year term. She succeeds current President Prokopis PAVLOPOULOS on 13 March. 

Italy 
Party Chief of the Five Star Movement (NI) Luigi DI MAIO stepped down from his position on Wednesday. DI MAIO will retain his position as Minister for Foreign Affairs. 

Malta 
Prime Minister Robert ABELA’s cabinet was revealed last week. The cabinet features 17 ministers and 8 parliamentary secretaries, only five ministers kept their previous portfolios. Minister for Gozo, Justyne CARUANA resigned on Monday. Clint CAMILLERI who had initially been appointed as the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries, Animal Rights and Consumer Protection, will now take over the Gozo portfolio. Anton REFALO has been given the Agriculture portfolio. 

For a full breakdown of the Maltese cabinet, go to dodspeople.eu 


/articles/news/movers-and-shakers-24-january-2020 Fri, 24 Jan 2020 16:04:47 +0100
Issue 508 | 27 January 2020 The Parliament Magazine

This issue features Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloș as our cover star. He tells us why citizens must play a key role in designing the blueprint for the future of Europe and shares his views on the new European Commission, climate change and Brexit.

This issue features Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloș as our cover star. He tells us why citizens must play a key role in designing the blueprint for the future of Europe and shares his views on the new European Commission, climate change and Brexit.

In our EU space policy feature, Romanian EPP MEP Marian-Jean Marinescu looks at the security aspects of space policy, Italian EPP deputy Massimiliano Salini talks about the new EU Space Programme, and Executive Director of the European Global Navigation Satellite System (GNSS) Agency (GSA), Carlo des Dorides, tells us about the successes of the Galileo programme.

We also have a special feature on the EU’s Farm to Fork strategy, with MEPs Elsi Katainen (FI, RE) and Daniel Buda (RO, EPP) sharing their views on how the EU can adapt agricultural policy to the EU Green Deal.

Also in this issue: MEP comment on the EU’s cancer strategy, maritime emissions, digital taxation, the EU budget, Veganuary, EU-India relations, and World Holocaust Day.

We also recap the Fuels Europe event on alternative low-carbon technologies and liquid fuels and bid a fond farewell to Parliament’s British members as Brexit day approaches.

Finally, answering our five questions this issue is Spanish Renew Europe MEP Susana Solís Pérez.

/articles/magazines/issue-508-27-january-2020 Fri, 24 Jan 2020 15:30:00 +0100
UK Withdrawal Agreement passes two key hurdles Martin Banks

Having received Royal Assent in the UK and consent in a vote by Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee on Thursday, the UK is now well on its way to exiting the EU next week.

Having received Royal Assent in the UK and consent in a vote by Parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee on Thursday, the UK is now well on its way to exiting the EU next week.

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


A final hurdle will be next Wednesday's plenary vote in Brussels where, again, the agreement is expected to get the green light, allowing the UK to exit the EU at the end of this month, over three years after the EU Referendum.

The UK will officially leave the European Union after 47 years of membership, meaning that its representatives will no longer be present in the EU institutions.

But, ahead of the UK’s formal departure, the EU opened up a fresh potential clash with Britain by warning Boris Johnson of “sanctions” if he fails to implement controversial goods checks in the Irish Sea after Brexit.


RELATED CONTENT


On Wednesday, Stefaan De Rynck, senior adviser to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, said the bloc will “not tolerate any backsliding or half measures.”

The warning comes after the UK Prime Minister repeatedly claimed checks would not be necessary.

De Rynck, however, insisted the inspections were a joint legal agreement, as the price for Britain – but not Northern Ireland – breaking free of the single market and customs union.

The Belgian official was speaking at the 'Brexit - What Now?' event, at University College London.

"The UK's departure will force us to rethink the way in which we communicate with our citizens, so that they can relate in their everyday life to Europe's tangible and verifiable achievements” Luca Jahier, EESC President

The EU, it is believed, will take the UK to the European Court of Justice if it fails to implement the checks, with the threat of heavy fines being imposed.

The court will retain the power to fine the UK even after the transition period ends, at the end of 2020.

Elsewhere, David Caro, president of the ESBA, the body representing Europe’s SMEs at EU level, says that many of its members are concerned about the prospect of a no-deal Brexit at the end of this year.

Speaking at an ESBA event in Brussels on Wednesday, Caro, who has a business in the West Midlands, urged both sides to “do all they can” to ensure a “smooth transition.”

He warned that anything else could be damaging to the SME community which makes up over 95 percent of European industry.

Meanwhile, the legislative issues negotiated on Thursday come as a week of “farewells” to the UK and its representatives in Brussels got underway.

This started on Wednesday with the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC) paying tribute to its British members at the last plenary session they will attend.

The 24 UK members received a commemorative medal in a ceremony that, according to the EESC, “showed the EESC's commitment to maintaining strong ties with British civil society after Brexit.”

An EESC spokesman said it was a “a touching ceremony where many personal feelings surfaced.”

Luca Jahier, President of the EESC, admitted that the choice made by British citizens to leave the EU was “a decision of historical importance that we deeply regret, but that we have to accept and respect.”

Paying tribute to “the crucial contribution made by British members to the work of the EESC in many fields,” he said that “the UK's departure will force us to rethink the way in which we communicate with our citizens, so that they can relate in their everyday life to Europe's tangible and verifiable achievements.”

He noted the EESC's determination to maintain close contacts with British civil society after Brexit, adding, “There is no other alternative than a strong relationship between the EU and the UK, and we at the EESC will do whatever it takes to keep that strong link alive.

“Ceci n'est qu'un au revoir, mes amis,” he added.

Tom Jenkins, president of the EESC between 1996 and 1998, was invited to the ceremony and expressed his sorrow for being about to lose his EU citizenship and, post-Brexit, urged the UK and EU to “encourage dialogue with civil society representatives.”

Pro-European activist Madeleina Key, also known as “EU Supergirl,” criticized the “mix of apathy and ignorance that have fuelled the rise of nationalism in the UK, and warned EU leaders about the need to change the way they communicate to citizens.”

She will, she told the plenary, continue to fight for Europe in the UK, adding, “We must believe that the future is Europe, so all British citizens know they will be forever Europeans.”

/articles/news/uk-withdrawal-agreement-passes-two-key-hurdles Fri, 24 Jan 2020 14:02:39 +0100
NGOs announce plans for fringe festival alongside Future of Europe conference Martin Banks

The pan-European “festival of democracy” aims to “harness the energy, imagination and ideas” of citizens.

The pan-European “festival of democracy” aims to “harness the energy, imagination and ideas” of citizens.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


Civil society organisations across Europe have announced plans for a pan-European “festival of democracy” to run in parallel with the Future of Europe conference.

Due to start in May and last up to two years, the conference will focus on how citizens should be more closely involved in the EU decision-making process, while the festival aims to “harness the energy, imagination and ideas” of citizens to support this initiative.


RELATED CONTENT


With support from a range of civil society groups, including ALDA Europe (the Association for Local Democracy in Europe), the European Future Forum, Volonteurope, GlobalNet21 and BETA, a Europe-wide student network, the initiative aims to fill the “spaces in-between” the formal consultation events taking place as part of the official conference.

Some 47 civil society organisations met in Milan, including the Italian European Movement, and signed a declaration supporting the Europe Future Fringe initiative. The organisers say they were inspired by the world-famous Edinburgh fringe festival.

In the meantime, decisions about the official Future of Europe Conference itself have been postponed while the European Parliament, Commission and Council continue discussions about who will take charge of what was originally billed as a “bottom-up” rather than “top-down” process.

"Citizens will switch off very quickly if they think the Future of Europe conference is all about politics and not about them. That's why we need to kick start the conversation about the future of Europe now" Roger Casale, CEO of New Europeans

Roger Casale, Secretary General and CEO of the campaign group New Europeans, said, “Citizens will switch off very quickly if they think the Future of Europe conference is all about politics and not about them. That's why we need to kick start the conversation about the future of Europe now.”

Piotr Sadowski, General Secretary of Volonteurope, an association representing over 100 voluntary organisations in Europe and one of the organisers of the “fringe”, said, “One of the great things about the Europe Future Fringe is that we can reach out to people outside the borders of the EU and involve them in the future of Europe debate, for example in the UK, Ukraine, and the Balkans. That is vitally important - Europe is a community of values not simply a set of institutions in Brussels.”

Dominik Kirchdorfer, President of Europe Future Forum, which is setting up the website for the fringe, commented, “We want to bring people and organisations together so they can share ideas and new perspectives and have their say in the future of Europe debate. The Europe Future Fringe will give us the opportunity to do just that.”

In December, the Financial Times described the Future of Europe conference as French President Emmanuel Macron’s “latest wheeze to revive European democracy”.

"We need to clearly transmit the message that Europe is not Brussels" Dacian Cioloș (RO, RE)

The idea is to bring policymaking closer to voters through a series of “bottom up” initiatives such as citizens’ and youth assemblies and online consultations.

Commenting on the conference plans, Renew Europe leader Dacian Cioloș, a Romanian MEP, said “We need to clearly transmit the message that Europe is not Brussels.”

However, so far, the main debate about the conference has been about who is going to chair the initiative, an issue that remains unresolved.

Despite the current internal wrangling, S&D group leader, Iratxe García Pérez, said, “The Conference on the Future of Europe is a unique opportunity to make sure the EU is fit to face the future. We are not here to build a market, but a community.”

"We need to find a new shared vision for the future of the European project and define together the reforms needed to strengthen our Union" David Sassoli, Parliament President (IT, S&D)

Meanwhile, Parliament’s president David Sassoli noted, “The limits of the current model of EU governance have been made evident by the crises that have hit Europe over the past decade.”

The Italian added, “We need to find a new shared vision for the future of the European project and define together the reforms needed to strengthen our Union.”

“We must be able to act better in the interest of Europeans, we must boost the EU’s democratic legitimacy, its transparency and effectiveness, and ensure wide participation from civil society and citizens in this debate.”

/articles/news/ngos-announce-plans-fringe-festival-alongside-future-europe-conference Thu, 23 Jan 2020 14:29:31 +0100
AFCO to sign-off UK Withdrawal Agreement Martin Banks

The committee will vote on Thursday, paving the way for a final vote in plenary next week.

The committee will vote on Thursday, paving the way for a final vote in plenary next week.

Photo credit: 


Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee will vote this Thursday to “sign off” the Withdrawal Agreement which paves the way for the UK to quit the EU on 31 January.

The vote still depends on whether the UK itself this week grants its consent to the Brexit deal.

If, as expected, the deal passes the two legislative hurdles this week, a final parliamentary vote will take place in the mini plenary in Brussels on 29 January.


RELATED CONTENT


Speaking at a briefing in parliament on Monday, a spokesman for the institution said MEPs “will not vote unless and until the UK ratification process is completed. This is due for 22 January. We should know by then if the UK ratification is done.”

Future trade and economic relations with the UK after Brexit were discussed in the committee on international trade (INTA) on Tuesday.

Luxembourg MEP Christophe Hansen, EPP group spokesperson and Brexit rapporteur in the committee, said it is in the interest of “both sides” to have close trade ties.

He said, "However, being outside the EU cannot entail the same advantages as being inside the Union. Even if Boris Johnson's timetable for a trade agreement between the EU and UK is extremely ambitious, our duty will be to properly protect European interests.”

“That is why the European Parliament intends to follow the negotiations very closely, to ensure appropriate democratic scrutiny of any future deal," the MEP stated.

"It is time to move forward to the next stage of negotiations, and while we are sad to see the UK leave the EU, it is now important to concentrate on fostering a positive, constructive future relationship" Danuta Hübner (PL, EPP), member of Parliament’s Brexit steering group

Polish deputy Danuta Hübner, a senior representative in the European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, said the EPP “regrets” that the UK is leaving the EU but welcomes the fact that the constitutional affairs committee is likely to support the agreement.

This paves the way for the conclusion of what has been a “lengthy process,” she said, adding, "It is time to move forward to the next stage of negotiations, and while we are sad to see the UK leave the EU, it is now important to concentrate on fostering a positive, constructive future relationship.”

A parliament source told The Parliament Magazine on Monday about the arrangements being planned in Brussels to mark the UK’s much-lauded exit.

The source said, “The debate and vote on consent will be on the afternoon of 29 January in plenary. This will be the high moment in parliament next week. No press event is planned, but parliament’s President David Sassoli will have a short departing ceremony for the UK MEPs where group leaders will also be invited in the margins of the plenary.”

“There is nothing to celebrate but it is an important moment to mark. It will be marked with dignity with an allocution by the president in the chamber after the vote.”

Some political groups, including the Greens, and MEPs have organised their own private events to mark Brexit.

/articles/news/afco-sign-uk-withdrawal-agreement Wed, 22 Jan 2020 14:43:50 +0100
UK government under renewed pressure to provide an EU Green Card Martin Banks

A House of Lords amendment to the Withdrawal Bill calls on the UK government to provide EU citizens with physical proof of status.

A House of Lords amendment to the Withdrawal Bill calls on the UK government to provide EU citizens with physical proof of status.

Photo credit: House of Lords


The UK House of Lords has backed calls for “physical” proof of status for EU citizens after the UK leaves the EU on 31 January.

The amendment, backed by a Liberal Democrat peer, would give EU nationals the right to receive a residence document instead of the government’s plan to provide only digital proof. It would also grant them an automatic right to stay, instead of having to apply.

The Lords, in a vote on Monday, passed the amendment, during the passage of the Withdrawal Bill, by 270 votes to 229.


RELATED CONTENT


Following its first parliamentary defeat since the election, the UK Government is now facing renewed calls to provide the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens who live and work in the UK with a document to prove their status.

Some fear, however, that the House of Lords amendment will be over-turned when the Withdrawal Bill returns to the House of Commons.

Lord Oates quoted Boris Johnson and other ministers who – when campaigning to leave the EU in 2016 – said there would be “no change” for lawful EU residents, and that they would “automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK”.

“Sadly, although a great deal of progress has been made with the settled status scheme, these commitments have not been honoured,” he told the chamber.

"As a result, possibly tens of thousands of otherwise eligible people may find themselves undocumented and criminalised in as little as 18 months’ time. Inevitably, those most at risk will be the most vulnerable: young people in care, the elderly and the marginalised" Lord Oates

The peer added that despite the government’s best efforts, it was inevitable that the system would not reach all 3.5 million EU citizens resident in the UK.

“As a result, possibly tens of thousands of otherwise eligible people may find themselves undocumented and criminalised in as little as 18 months’ time. Inevitably, those most at risk will be the most vulnerable: young people in care, the elderly and the marginalised.”

Campaign groups have long called for the introduction of an EU Green Card to protect EU citizens from potential discrimination by landlords, employers, banks and public authorities post Brexit.

Such a card, it is argued, could also be used to protect the rights and the status of the 1.5 million British citizens already resident in the EU and guarantee their right to free movement.

According to a new report carried out by researchers at Northumbria University in the UK, 90 percent of EU citizens in the UK would prefer such a card over the digital evidence they currently have to provide.

"An EU Green Card would give me physical proof of my settled status as an EU citizen" Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish citizen working for the NHS in the UK

On Tuesday, speaking to The Parliament Magazine after the Lords vote, Roger Casale, Secretary General of one campaign group, New Europeans, said, "We have always said that EU citizens would face discrimination without a physical proof of status. As the report demonstrates, EU citizens have now stated overwhelmingly that the lack of a card such as our proposed Green Card for Europe is their top concern.”

Further comment came from Joan Pons Laplana, a Spanish citizen working for the NHS in the UK and a former NHS nurse of the year, who told us, “An EU Green Card would give me physical proof of my settled status as an EU citizen, guarantee all my rights as an EU citizen in the UK, a permanent right to return to Britain, the backing of the EU and ultimately the kind of peace of mind that I simply do not have right now."

In the meantime, campaigners, such as Casale, have stepped up calls for the European Commission to issue such an EU Green Card both for EU citizens in the UK and Britons in Europe.

Casale adds, “We renew our calls on the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal to prepare for the introduction of a Green Card and to do so without delay if citizens are not to be made to pay the price of Brexit.”

"We renew our calls on the Commission to bring forward a legislative proposal to prepare for the introduction of a Green Card and to do so without delay if citizens are not to be made to pay the price of Brexit" Roger Casale, New Europeans

The Green Card proposal has won numerous awards including the Financial Times Future of Britain Award, the Schwarzkopf Europe Award and a presidential medal from Emmanuel Macron.

Support for the proposal has come from members of all political groups, including from Polish deputy Danuta Hübner of the EPP and Karen Melchior of Renew Europe.

In 2018, the European Parliament’s Civil Liberties (LIBE) and the Constitutional Affairs (AFCO) committees took evidence on the proposal and the UK Home Office has also been briefed about the EU Green Card.

Further progress with the EU Green Card proposal is expected when EU-UK negotiations open in February on the future relationship.

/articles/news/uk-government-under-renewed-pressure-provide-eu-green-card Wed, 22 Jan 2020 11:16:59 +0100
EU can no longer ignore Catalonia, says Puigdemont Martin Banks

The Catalan pro-independence MEP made the remark when speaking for the first time in the European Parliament.

The Catalan pro-independence MEP made the remark when speaking for the first time in the European Parliament.

Catalan MEPs Toni Comin (left) and Carles Puigdemont (right) | Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Catalan pro-independence MEPs Carles Puigdemont and Toni Comin have now taken up their seats in the European Parliament for the first time.

Socialist group leader Iratxe García Pérez has backed the decision to allow two Catalan MEPs to take up their seats, saying, “We cannot ignore the situation in Catalonia. There is a new scenario now with the new government in Spain, which is good news for Spain, Catalonia and Europe. Our defence of rule of law cannot be selective so we must respect the decision of all judicial decisions.”

This was an indirect reference to a decision by the European Court of Justice, the EU’s top court, in December where judges ruled that MEPs have the right to immunity from the moment they are officially elected.


RELATED CONTENT


A third Catalan politician, who was also elected in last May’s European elections, the former Catalan vice-president Oriol Junqueras, has been held in custody for over two years.

Junqueras was elected leader of the European Free Alliance group, but he will remain in prison after the Spanish Supreme Court recently refused to release him.

Parliament’s president David Sassoli has announced that Junqueras is no longer considered an MEP, backing the Spanish Supreme Court decision to block his bid to take his seat in Parliament. Junqueras is expected to appeal against the ruling to the General Court of the European Union.

"We cannot ignore the situation in Catalonia. There is a new scenario now with the new government in Spain, which is good news for Spain, Catalonia and Europe" S&D group leader Iratxe García Pérez

A total of nine Catalan separatist leaders were jailed over the 2017 independence referendum and subsequent declaration of independence which was ruled illegal by Spanish courts.

S&D group leader Pérez said, “We must respect the ECJ decision and we must take on board the fact that there are now two new MEPs from Catalonia in parliament. Parliament must not be turned into a spectacle or a circus and we must now allow justice to work.”

Puigdemont and Comin currently sit with non-attached members in parliament despite saying previously they wanted to join the Greens/EFA group. Both are currently exiled in Belgium, fearing they will be arrested if they return to Spain.

However, Greens co-leader Philippe Lamberts has poured cold water on the prospects of them joining his grouping.

"It is not possible that the European Union any longer ignores Catalonia" Catalan MEP Carles Puigdemont

The Belgian MEP said, “I know they have asked to join us, but their membership of our group would constitute a problem, so we need to talk to our EFA colleagues about this. These two MEPs have constantly been aligned with a party in their host country, Belgium, which sits with another group.”

Speaking last week in parliament for the first time, Puigdemont said, “We are here to recall that the Catalan crisis is not an internal affair, it is a European one.”

Describing his debut in parliament as a “very emotional day,” Puigdemont, a former president of Catalonia, urged the EU to find a “political solution” to the Catalan issue and insisted that the Commission “should make sure Spain respects the ECJ decision.”

"It is not possible that the European Union any longer ignores Catalonia," said Puigdemont, who believes that "the Catalan crisis has already had an impact on the foundations of the EU".

Both Puigdemont and Comin held up posters saying “Free Junqueras”.

/articles/news/eu-can-no-longer-ignore-catalonia-says-puigdemont Tue, 21 Jan 2020 14:58:07 +0100
UK urged to respect post-Brexit EU citizens’ rights Martin Banks

MEPs raised concerns after a senior UK minister suggested EU citizens could face deportation if they fail to secure settled status in time.

MEPs raised concerns after a senior UK minister suggested EU citizens could face deportation if they fail to secure settled status in time.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock


Joint leader of the Greens Philippe Lamberts has appealed to the UK to respect the post-Brexit legal rights of EU citizens in Britain.

His comments come after UK security minister Brandon Lewis recently threatened EU citizens with deportation from the UK if they do not apply for settled status before the deadline of 30 June 2021. He later claimed the comments had been taken out of context.

However, Lamberts has angrily hit out at the minister’s remarks and urged the EU to ensure citizens’ rights are respected in the upcoming trade talks between the UK and EU.

The UK is due to exit the EU on 31 January and the transition period will end in December.


RELATED CONTENT


Last week in the European Parliament in Strasbourg MEPs endorsed a resolution on the issue which calls for the protection of citizens’ rights after Brexit.

Lamberts said, “There are three million EU citizens in the UK who fear they may lose their rights after Brexit and we are extremely concerned about this. We in this parliament will do our utmost to ensure their rights are maintained, post Brexit.”

He said he was “particularly concerned” about the UK’s Brexit transposition legislation and the possibility of Britain withdrawing from the supervisory body which is responsible for ensuring that citizens’ rights are respected.

"There are three million EU citizens in the UK who fear they may lose their rights after Brexit and we are extremely concerned about this. We in this parliament will do our utmost to ensure their rights are maintained, post Brexit" Philippe Lamberts (BE, Greens/EFA)

Lamberts aid, “Of course, we want to keep as close a partnership with the UK as possible after it leaves the EU, but this presupposes that the UK’s position does not change and that it will treat our citizens who live in the UK impeccably.”

The same applies to the estimated 1.5 million Britons living in Europe, he said, adding, “We have safeguards in place to ensure Member States will safeguard the rights of Britons in Europe.”

Looking ahead to the coming months, Lamberts said, “In the required timeframe, I don’t think we will get an extensive agreement other than a bare bones agreement. As political majorities change in the UK, I hope Britons will realise their interests are best served by being as close to Europe as possible.”

Further comment came from Polish MEP Danuta Hübner who said, “I deeply regret that the UK government says it will end the free movement of people. EU citizens have greatly benefited from this right and I hope the government will still change its mind on this issue.”

She added, “We also need an awareness raising campaign about citizens’ rights and we must keep a watchful eye on citizens’ rights in the current talks between the two sides.”

Belgian MEP Guy Verhofstadt, a fellow member of parliament’s Brexit steering group, added, “I hope the parliament will massively back the resolution on Wednesday so as to give us a final mandate on this. This is necessary because there are still concerns, including about free movement, that need to be addressed. If they are not addressed now, they will remain until the end of the year.”

"I hope Boris Johnson can show the same flexibility over this issue that the Queen has shown to Megan and Harry" Guy Verhofstadt (BE, RE)

“We also need a physical document offering proof of the right to residency at the end of the transition period on 1 January 2021. These need to be addressed. I hope Boris Johnson can show the same flexibility over this issue that the Queen has shown to Megan and Harry.”

Tory Geoffrey Van Orden said, “Conservative MEPs have consistently stood up for British interests throughout their time in the European Parliament. We leave now with mixed feelings. Some of us have been here a long time and have made many friends across the Parliament and beyond. But we have seen the EU determined to pursue a goal of political integration which we fundamentally oppose."

"We pushed for reform and change but it fell on deaf ears, as have the concerns of so many citizens across the continent.Our final act will be to see the Withdrawal Agreement safely though the Parliament so that we can depart on good terms.  We want to leave positive feelings towards the UK so that a good trade treaty and other arrangements can rapidly be concluded with the EU and close, friendly relations maintained."

"Britain is leaving the institutions and jurisdiction of the EU. We are not leaving Europe. We remain the strongest European military power in NATO and will once more become that great trading nation with global reach, a bastion of freedom.”

He also referred to the 1.5 million Britons living in mainland Europe.

Van Orden added, “This resolution focuses disproportionately on EU citizens in the UK and gives scant attention to Britons who are in the EU – just one paragraph out of 22. Hardly any Member States have so far published plans for how this will work for Britons in Europe, so I hope this parliament will be rigorous in ensuring that Britons in other EU countries are properly treated”.

He said that in the UK, 2.6 million EU citizens had applied for settled status and only five have been refused (on the grounds of “criminality”).

"The resolution we will vote on fires more than one firing shot which must be heard. These are genuine concerns from citizens. If we do not get this right, it will be a deep scar and a continuing injustice for years to come" Claude Moraes (UK, S&D)

This, though, was challenged by Greens UK member Christian Allard who said 47 percent of those who had applied for settled status had been refused and told to reapply.

He said, “I have lived in Scotland for 25 years and the UK settled status scheme is not fit for purpose. I am very worried about what will happen next, but I will not be denied the right to live in my own home, Scotland.”

Jude Kirton-Darling, a Socialist member, said, “We have a moral duty to those many Britons in Europe who had no vote in the Referendum and are being further disenfranchised.”

Meanwhile, her colleague, MEP Claude Moraes, said, “The resolution we will vote on fires more than one firing shot which must be heard. These are genuine concerns from citizens. If we do not get this right, it will be a deep scar and a continuing injustice for years to come.”

Brexit party MEP Ann Widdecombe hit back, declaring, “Ending the free movement of people was a massive factor in the British public’s decision to leave the EU. It was one of the biggest driving forces, but people here are still trying to tell the UK we should dare to have an application process for citizenship.”

 

/articles/news/uk-urged-respect-post-brexit-eu-citizens%E2%80%99-rights Tue, 21 Jan 2020 12:48:11 +0100
Taiwan pro-independence leader wins presidential election Martin Banks

A top Taiwanese diplomat has warned China to heed the outcome of his country’s presidential elections.

A top Taiwanese diplomat has warned China to heed the outcome of his country’s presidential elections.

President Tsai Ing-wen, leader of the Democratic Progressive Party, celebrates winning re-election in Taipei | Photo credit: Press Association


In the poll, the people of Taiwan overwhelmingly voted to renew the mandate of the Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) and President Tsai Ing-wen for another four years, in an election that saw the incumbent win more votes than any other presidential candidate in Taiwan’s history.

She swept to victory despite the economy slowing down and relations with mainland China at their worst for decades. It was the 15th presidential election in Taiwan and its tenth parliamentary election.


RELATED CONTENT


President Tsai Ing-Wen is a pro-Washington politician, attracting popular consent for her status-quo position, although less successful domestic policies have caused her popularity to decline.

The incumbent DPP has long held that Taiwan is an independent country, while the opposition KMT (Chinese Nationalist Party) insists that Taiwan is an inseparable part of China.

Speaking to The Parliament Magazine, Harry Tseng, Taipei’s Representative to the EU and Belgium, welcomed the outcome of the elections, saying, “We want good relations with China but not at the expense of our sovereignty”.

"The results of the election sent a clear signal to China about the determination of Taiwanese people for their country to remain independent" Harry Tseng, Taipei’s Representative to the EU and Belgium

“The Chinese regime has a heavy-handed approach to relations with Taiwan and has made it clear that it will not change its ‘One China’ policy.”

China has scores of missiles directed at Taiwan but, when asked if the results made the prospect of Chinese military action against Taiwan more likely, he said, “No, I do not think they will do anything stupid.”

He added, though, that “The results of the election sent a clear signal to China about the determination of Taiwanese people for their country to remain independent.”

His comments coincide with the signing on Wednesday of a key trade agreement between the U.S and China, which is expected to lead to a thaw in the so-called trade wars between the two sides.

Meanwhile, BusinessEurope, the body representing European business at EU level, has called on the EU to “reconsider how it engages” with China.

"The consolidation of China’s state-led economy over market-oriented reforms and the difficulty in achieving much-needed WTO reform have led to an imbalance in the global level playing field" BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz

The group has published a strategy paper on the EU’s economic relationship with China, saying European business wants to build a “stronger and fairer” economic relationship, but warning that “systemic challenges prevent European companies from untapping this economic potential.”

The obstacles created by China’s state-led economy lead to market distortions in China, the EU and in third countries, says BusinessEurope.

“We call on the EU to reconsider how it engages with China, so that it can seize the opportunities and mitigate the distortions and challenges created by China’s state-led economy,” read the statement.

BusinessEurope President Pierre Gattaz added, “China and Europe have benefited tremendously from China’s accession to the WTO in 2001. But in recent years, the consolidation of China’s state-led economy over market-oriented reforms and the difficulty in achieving much-needed WTO reform have led to an imbalance in the global level playing field.”

/articles/news/taiwan-pro-independence-leader-wins-presidential-election Mon, 20 Jan 2020 18:26:13 +0100