Bruxelles, 1 Febbraio 2018. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso dell’Audizione comune organizzata dalla Commissione per l’occupazione e gli affari sociali (EMPL), dalla Commissione per le libertà civili, la giustizia e gli affari interni (LIBE) e dalla Commissione per le petizioni (PETI) “I diritti dei cittadini dopo la Brexit”. Barbara Spinelli è intervenuta in qualità di Primo Vicepresidente della Commissione Affari Costituzionali, in sostituzione del Presidente Danuta Maria Hübner.
I thank all the speakers present today. The consideration I will expose are personal, not of AFCO as a whole.
Despite some progresses, we are still far from guaranteeing the legal certainty for the protection of the full set of rights provided by the EU law. So my hope is without optimism.
To begin, a bright spot: I welcome a crucial clarification made by the Council in the new Guidelines: EU citizens moving to UK during the transition period will then enjoy the protection foreseen in the withdrawal agreement. Regrettably, Theresa May has already rejected such stance.
I welcome also Mr Barnier’s words: “Sufficient progress does not mean full progress”.
I deplore, however, that citizens’ rights are not included amongst the issues that still need to be addressed, both in his speech and in the guidelines, as if the question were a solved matter. This is my primary concern: that the issue will be set aside in this phase of negotiations. Both parties made a precise pledge at the beginning: that nothing will change in the life of millions of people, and this permanently. As it is now, the Joint Report – which is actually a simple common understanding – surely does not keep that promise.
As stressed by the European Parliament in its last resolution there are still outstanding issues which must be resolved. I just mention them, the speakers will surely provide a more detailed analysis: the situation of future partners of EU citizens, the guarantee of the declaratory nature of the settled status, the binding character of the decisions of the Court of Justice, the future freedom of movement of UK citizens, the enforceability of the commitments on the Irish/Northern Irish issue. They represent to me only a part – while essential – of the still unsolved issues and more should be done to establish a comprehensive agreement. As an example, I invite you to read point 58 of the Joint technical note, concerning matters that the Commission considered outside the scope of the EU mandate for the first phase of the negotiations I consider them too as necessary elements for the full enjoyment of the rights provided by the EU law, hence to be included clearly in the withdrawal agreement. I remind what the House of Lords said in its Report on “Brexit: Acquired Rights”: “In our view EU citizenship rights are indivisible. Taken as a whole they make it possible for an EU citizen to live, work, study and have a family in another EU Member State. Remove one, and the operation of others is affected”.
I highlight now some points that I hope will be broadly discussed during this hearing.
1) We should strongly avoid the erosion of the rights provided by the EU law. The recent openness of the Commission to the possible establishment, in the EU27 Member States, of constitutive procedures similar to the proposed British “settled status” is worrying and contrary to the EU law.
2) We must avoid any reference to the concept of “past life choices”. EU citizenship is a status deriving from a precise legal framework and not a simple life choice. The exercise of the relevant rights is founded on the legitimate expectations of having those rights legally protected in a permanent way.
3) Finally, I draw your attention on the possibility of a non-agreement. Judging by the reaction of Mrs May to the Council’s Guidelines, I wonder whether we should be prepared for this scenario as well, and secure at least some agreements on citizens’ rights and Northern Ireland.