Brexit – The Big Swindle

di giovedì, novembre 22, 2018 0 , , , , Permalink

Bruxelles, 22 novembre 2018.  Intervento di Barbara Spinelli alla Conferenza “The consequences of the Brexit on citizen rights and on the long-term European immigration vision” organizzata dall’ICHEC Brussels Management School.

If we want to grasp the impact of Brexit on citizens’ and workers’ rights, we must mentally detach ourselves from the scheme adopted in the EU-UK negotiation on the Withdrawal Agreement. This is not because the scheme is flawed or inefficient. In my capacity as co-rapporteur for my political group in the Brexit negotiations I endorsed such a scheme: it has consisted in the struggle to preserve the European rights (the so-called “acquired rights”) enjoyed by Northern Irish citizens (more than 1.8 million), by EU citizens in the UK (3.8 million) and by UK nationals within the Union (1.3 million). The total comes to almost 7 million people who either didn’t stand a chance to choose or voted Remain in Northern Ireland, and who are threatened by a radical erosion of rights. We need to mentally detach ourselves, by contrast, if we aim to analyse in depth the effects of Brexit and its complexity, and better understand why and how we got there and why citizens’ rights have become, together with the Northern Irish question, such an incandescent issue in the Brexit negotiations.

As concerns Northern Ireland, the reason couldn’t be clearer: the Good Friday Agreement contains provisions for birth rights of the ‘people of Northern Ireland’ to identify themselves as Irish or British, or both, and accordingly hold British and Irish (that is European) citizenship, without differential or detrimental treatment. If the whole set of rights connected to European citizenship is not granted by the UK-EU Withdrawal Agreement (including the right to be represented in the European Parliament, but this is my opinion), Northern Ireland will fall back into a pre-Good Friday Agreement scenario, characterised by hostility and war. The loss of rights in the case of EU citizens living in the UK doesn’t involve a whole nation’s destiny, as in Northern Ireland, but is also frightening: they risk becoming part of the “hostile environment” planned for third-country immigrants back in 2012 by the then-Home Secretary Theresa May.

I say “why we got there” and not “they”, the UK voters, because Brexit is a European issue. The Union as a whole is co-responsible for the monumental distrust towards EU policies and politics voiced by a majority of people in a Member State, and if the EU doesn’t grasp the nature and the roots of this distrust it is doomed to fail as a project for unification and solidarity.

So, I will divide my speech into two parts. In the first, I will emphasize the reasons that led up to Brexit, focusing on the question of rights in general. In the second part, I will analyse the question of preserving EU rights in a withdrawal scenario.

1) Let’s examine the first question: how and why did we get here? It’s the question posed by the association Compass, together with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung (the title of the study by Compass is “The Causes and Cures of Brexit”, published last September by Neal Lawson). Most of the time, Brexit is described in a generic and politically biased way: what I mean – and what the study means – is the impoverished or inadequate vocabulary used by politicians – the so-called political classes – and by great part of the media. Words like nationalism, sovereignism, euro-scepticism, populism, which are used to explain Brexit, could easily appear in Flaubert’s Dictionnaire des Idées Reçues: they don’t explain anything, are derogatory, self-referential and shallow. The films of Ken Loach are much more telling and profound than most speeches by today’s political leaders or editorials of the mainstream press in Europe and the United States. Maybe some of you have seen Loach’s last film– I, Daniel Blake: it could have as a subtitle: Brexit downloaded. I was also struck by the title of his upcoming film, scheduled for release in 2019: “Sorry We Missed You”. I ignore the plot but the title is in every respect pertinent: here comes a European State that pretended to be the expression of a people’s discontent but plainly missed and betrayed them. The vote for Brexit is not explainable through the prism of Ukip propaganda on migration, or of the Tory Brexiteers propaganda of British unparalleled grandeur. There has been a Tory or Ukip Brexit, but there has also been a Brexit of despair and desolation, which has been exploited by Tory Brexiteers or Ukip but has little or nothing to do with them: I would call it the “dark backward and abysm” of Brexit, to paraphrase Prospero’s description of time in The Tempest.

Let us recall what happened before Brexit: the crushing of Greece by EU policies, austerity memoranda and intrusive troikas (the word, “crushing”, is not my own. It has been used by EU leaders, as testified by the then US Secretary of the Treasury, Tim Geithner, in his memoirs published in 2015.[1] In February 2010, in the middle of the Euro Crisis, European leaders actually decided to collectively punish a nation for having gone bankrupt within a Eurozone whose architecture never took into consideration the possibility that a Member State could become insolvent. I quote Geithner’s description of the main leaders’ phraseology.: «’We’re going to teach the Greeks a lesson. They are really terrible. They lied to us. They suck and they were profligate and took advantage of the whole basic thing and we’re going to crush them.’ [That] was their basic attitude, all of them”. Even President Jean-Claude Juncker, who fully supported and implemented the crushing, has admitted last June 2nd – with much delay, and without blushing – that Athens had been hurt by the EU approach, with “the dignity of the Greek people trodden under foot” when left-wing Prime Minister Alexis Tsipras took office in 2015.

A large share of UK nationals voted for Brexit out of sheer despair concerning the massive loss of social rights. Taking back control meant for them having control over their own lives, as shaped after two world wars by the architecture of the Welfare State. If we look at the substance, using the sociological categories of Albert Hirschman, they chose not so much the road of “exit”, but of “voice”.[2] The Welfare system was born during the second world war in England thanks to William Beveridge, who submitted a detailed plan for its foundation to Churchill – and who was by the way deeply convinced of the necessity of a European federation. But Welfare died in England at the hands of Margaret Thatcher and Tony Blair. Let’s not forget this vanguard role of the UK in both directions: the creation of Welfare and its demolition.

So, Brexit is a contradictory phenomenon: many voters embraced Leave thinking they would get more, not fewer social rights. In its Report on the State of the Nation in 2017, the UK Social Mobility Commission establishes that “There is a fracture line running deep through our labour and housing markets and our education system. Those on the wrong side of this divide are losing out and falling behind”. The divide is not just an economic or social one, write the authors of the Report: “It takes the form of a widening geographical divide. The Social Mobility Index reveals a growing gulf between our country’s great cities (especially London) and those towns and counties that are being left behind economically and hollowed out socially. England is a small country with a large and growing gap between those places that offer good opportunities for social progress – what we have called social mobility hotspots – and those that do not – the coldspots ».

Those who were lost and fell behind voted massively for Brexit in 2016, and it is revealing that the 30 regions described in the Report as the worst for social mobility – from Weymouth to Carlisle – all voted Leave. Seven of the poorest ten regions in northern Europe are in the United Kingdom – and all had substantial majorities voting for Brexit in the referendum. I quote a passage from a highly instructive article by Caroline Lucas in OpenDemocracy: “A poisonous cocktail of de-industrialisation, the financial crisis and an ideological assault on public services came together in the Brexit vote, and the genius of the Eurosceptic right was to blame the EU and immigration. When the Brexit campaign offered people an opportunity to “take back control”, it’s no wonder so many jumped at the chance”. And she concludes: “Yet those driving the government’s agenda are using Brexit to accelerate the very (neo-liberal) ideology that got us into this mess. They support policies that would make us more like the United States where, without the safety net of social security benefits, falling ill or being made redundant can quickly lead to homelessness”.[3]

2) My second point concerns the loss of EU social rights. The link between the first point and the second is important, because in comparing the two problem areas we can see the extent of the dark backward and abysm of Brexit: the use and misuse of peoples’ resentments and feeling of dispossession and loss, the vicious betrayal of people like Ken Loach’s Daniel Blake. Last but not least, we can meditate the concept of sovereignism, another derogatory expression – as I said – frequently used by the present élites without knowing the reasons of its emergence in the political debate. Sovereignism is abusively conflated with nationalism or Euro-hostility, dodging the central question raised by the unclear, blurred frontiers between supranational, national and popular sovereignties. When you have EU institutions which impose policies, economic parameters or labor laws in contradiction with policy choices promised and voted for in national electoral campaigns, you inevitably infringe national and popular sovereignties. It’s a dilemma never really explained and resolved, with the consequence that all sovereignties are delegitimised: the national, the supranational, and the popular ones.

But let’s examine in detail, now, the likely impact of Brexit on EU-derived rights, focussing in particular on social and employment rights. I will first examine the loss of rights in the UK, and then the specific predicament suffered by EU citizens living in the UK and British nationals living inside the Union.

What a majority of right-wing Brexiteers really dislike in the European Union is the web of regulations and directives that constitute the EU project. When Theresa May speaks of a “Global Britain which thrives in the world”, she transmits the false image of a giant power feeling tied down, like Gulliver, by Lilliputians no larger than his fingers, and having only one overriding desire: to get rid of the continental Lilliputian, to be able to stir again and not have arms and legs “fastened” on the ground, as Swift puts it. Gulliver feels several slender ligatures across his body, and the EU with its rules and norms represents the ligature – the name today is red-tape – to get rid of. The migration issue was useful to get votes. Take back control was another watchword of the Brexiteers: probably the most ambiguous and deceitful one. In the final analysis, the real aim of the Tory Brexit is having a more deregulated and liberalised economic and social policy: the hidden subtext of the watchword – “take back control” – is the aspiration for less democratic control, fewer rules for the labour market, fewer obligations concerning fundamental rights.

All this is in reality delusional, and belongs to the magical thinking of the Tory Brexiteers: the EU policy is already significantly deregulated, and its social fabric has already been ravaged by austerity policies. Nonetheless, the UK Brexiteers continue to strive for the status of a giant unchained and want more than the current deregulation, first and foremost as social Europe and the rights of workers and citizens are concerned. I speak basically of rights derived from EU law (including its directives and regulations), as well as from the case-law of the European Court of Justice on social relations. Such rights concern not only the so-called post-Brexit citizens (EU citizens living in the UK and vice-versa) but also workers and citizens living in all the constituent countries of the UK, including Scotland, Northern Ireland and Gibraltar which voted with large majorities to remain (as we have seen, Northern Irish citizens have a way of getting off the hook: they can either choose European citizenship and remain bound to the beneficial ligatures of EU law, or – in case of a no-deal and of the rejection by the UK government of a special status for its province – hold a referendum on the reunification with the Republic of Ireland. Both ways are provided for in the Good Friday Agreement of 1998).
As I said, I’m fully aware that the EU is not a paradise for those who suffer today from unemployment, precariousness and exclusion (I prefer the word expulsion, used by Saskia Sassen). Tory Brexiteers want to get rid of the Court of Justice and its rulings, but it was the EU Court that ruled, in the Viking Line and Laval cases, that employers’ rights always trump workers’ rights. So did the Alemo-Parkwood case with regard to the directive on acquired rights. Jacques Delors admitted the absence of a social dimension of the EU project in his famous speech given to the TUC Congress in 1988. He said that any measure adopted to complete the internal market should not diminish the level of social protection already achieved in the Member States, and insisted on the necessity to struggle against the dismantling of the labour market and to provide better protection for workers’ health and safety on the job. He was in favour of the establishment of a platform of guaranteed social rights, containing general principles such as every worker’s right to be covered by a collective agreement and more specific measures concerning, in particular, the status of temporary work. What came instead – especially after the financial crisis of 2007-2008 – was a neoliberal agenda intent on cutting public pensions, applying downward pressure on wages, privatising public services and removing the safety net of benefits right across the EU. After many years of austerity, after Greece’s fiscal waterboarding and the loss of trust in the Union felt by so many citizens in the EU, it’s time to revalorize Delors’ objective. To recognise the truth of what he said in 1989, the year of the fall of communism in the East: “You cannot fall in love with the single market”.

At the same time, it remains clear that workers’ rights will be badly hit by Brexit: notwithstanding the intensified neoliberal agenda of the Union, EU-derived rights in employment exist and persist, and are manifold. The case-law of the European Court of Justice is highly contradictory: it gives priority to employers’ rights in the Viking Line and Laval cases, but rules in a totally opposite way in other rulings, like Deutsche Post in 2000, which recognises equality and protection against discrimination as a fundamental right which takes priority over the economic aims of the Treaty. Another example: in November 2017, the Court ruled in favour of a gig economy worker who never got a paid holiday in 13 years. Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, observed that the judgement was “a striking reminder of the impending disaster for worker rights that is Brexit”. Part time work, work on demand and in general the gig-economy are protected by EU law much more than they will be outside the EU, thanks to specific directives: in particular the directive on working hours, as well as the directives on annual leaves, equal pay, maternity rights, parental leave, anti-discrimination laws, compensation for discrimination victims, temporary agency worker protection, health and safety. A report of the TUC in February 2017 has shown that wages will be 38 pounds a week lower, and other forecasts look even grimmer.

In an illuminating advisory report by Professor Michael Ford, drawn up at the request of the Trade Unions and published in March 2016 with the title “Workers’ rights from Europe: the Impact of Brexit”, the erosion of social rights following UK’s exit is described as unavoidable.[4] Provisions especially vulnerable to repeal in the name of deregulation or protecting business, according to Professor Ford, include among others “legislation on collective consultation, which hardly fit with the current Government’s vision of the labour market; working time rules (a persistent thorn in the side of the UK Government, both Conservative and Tony Blair’s New Labour); some of the EU-derived health and safety regulations, the impact of which on employers the last government already sought to reduce; parts of the Transfer of Undertakings (Protection of Employment) Regulations (TUPE), from which the Government has already tried to remove some ‘gold plating’; as well as the aforementioned legislation protecting agency workers – which was long resisted by the UK and which is in contrast with preferences for a ‘flexible’ labour market – and more generally the protections given to other ‘atypical’ workers, alongside important elements of discrimination law to which businesses object most strongly, such as uncapped compensation or high levels of liability for equal pay.

This being said, the Withdrawal Agreement as it is now represents without doubt a safety net, especially as regards the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice covering EU citizens in the UK, even though it will be time-limited, hence not guaranteeing life-long protection to EU citizens in the UK as expressly promised at the beginning of the negotiations. After the transition period, on 31st Dec 2020, the UK will most likely cap numbers of migrants, as it indicated in a leaked paper revealed in September 2017. Low-skilled EU workers will be particularly hard hit by the restriction. And work permits will be allowed for occupations where there is a shortage of workers: Britain will “come first” in a systematic way.

That’s why the European Parliament had asked the EU negotiator, Barnier, to incorporate in the Withdrawal Agreement as much as possible of existing rights linked to European citizenship and free movement, as well as to include fundamental rights and non-regression clauses in the future trade agreements: thanks to these pressures and despite manifest shortfalls, significant progress has been made.

Why this insistence on single rights enjoyed until now by citizens of EU Member states – as regards among many other things the mutual recognition of qualification, the rights of residence of family members, as well as specific rights like the free movement of UK nationals in the EU-27 or a declaratory system of registration by EU citizens for the new “settled status” (in opposition to the so-called constitutive registration [5] –- the last two battles have been lost) and on their punctilious incorporation in the text of the Withdrawal Agreement? Because contrary to the assurances given by the Leave campaigners during the referendum and immediately after, these and other EU rights cannot be protected adequately and in full, once a Member State has exited, unless the exiting State is bound by an international treaty (that’s the case, as we have seen, for the Good Friday Agreement). As a consequence, the rights cannot be automatically called acquired (or vested): if EU law and the EU Treaty no longer apply, they can be revoked and cease to be “acquired” life-long as happens in EU law (since the 16th century, the so-called “Henry VIII clause” allows the executive power to amend primary legislation by secondary legislation).

This means that such rights are lost, if not properly safeguarded: they are not protected by international law, notwithstanding the repeated claims of Leave campaigners. Article 70 of the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties provides that termination of an international treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination”, but the parties concerned are the States, not the individuals. Moreover, other international treaties containing social rights and co-signed by the UK (for example the Conventions of the International Labour Organisation – the ILO) give workers far less legal protection than EU law against any deregulatory-minded executive. The same applies to the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), because it mainly protects civil and political rights rather than socio-economic rights. It does not cover many important elements of the working relationship, such as the rights against discriminatory treatment in all aspects of the work relationship (including pay), rights to maternity and parental leave, protection of part-time, fixed-term and agency workers, working-time protections, and almost all those regulated at present by EU social law.

What is clear, and the advice drawn by Professor Michael Ford is very instructive on this point, is that EU law and the EU treaties (including the Charter of fundamental rights) are distinct from many other international treaties to the extent to which they give individuals rights ‘which become part of their legal heritage’. All this leads to an indisputable conclusion: post-Brexit citizens will have only the international treaty codified in the Withdrawal Agreement, as a legal reference to protect the legal heritage represented by the rights derived by EU-law. The House of Lords reached the same conclusion, and in a very clear way, in December 2016: “In our view EU citizenship rights are indivisible. Taken as a whole they make it possible for a EU citizen to live, work, study and have a family in another EU Member State. Remove one, and the operation of others is affected. It is our strong recommendation, therefore, that the full scope of EU citizenship rights be fully safeguarded in the withdrawal agreement”. [6]

THE WINDRUSH GENERATION – A TEST CASE
My last point concerns the scandal of the Windrush generation, revealed last April thanks to a former Home Office employee who decided to blow the whistle. I mention the scandal at the end not because I consider it less important or secondary, but because it encompasses and clarifies all the problems, pitfalls, and betrayals of trust described above.

I will try to summarise the facts, as disclosed essentially by The Guardian. The Windrush generation are people who arrived in the UK after the second world war from Caribbean countries at the invitation of the British government. The first group arrived on the ship Empire Windrush in June 1948. What happened is that an estimated 50,000 people faced the risk of deportation if they had never formalised their residency status and did not have the required documentation to prove it. Some children, often travelling on their parents’ passports, were never formally naturalised and many moved to the UK before the countries in which they were born became independent, so they assumed they were British. In some cases, they did not apply for passports. The Home Office did not keep a record of people entering the country and granted leave to remain, which was conferred on anyone living continuously in the country since before 1 January 1973.

Cases have accumulated of individuals seeking NHS treatment, passports, jobs or housing only to find themselves having to prove their right to live in the country where they have been legally resident for more than 45 years, or risk being deported. Harrowing stories have emerged of individuals being made homeless, jobless and stateless, after they failed to produce proof they were never given in the first place. One man suffered an aneurysm which he believes was brought on by the stress the situation caused him, only to be presented with a bill for £5000 for his NHS treatment – again because his paperwork didn’t measure up – while also losing his job and his home. He was left on the street. As it turns out, the one source of evidence that might have put a stop to this torture – the landing cards that recorded arrivals from the Caribbean until the 1960s – was erased by the Home Office in 2010. The Home Office destroyed thousands of those landing cards, despite staff warnings that the move would make it harder to check the records of older Caribbean-born residents experiencing residency difficulties. The Home Office and British government were further accused of having known about the negative impacts that their new migration policies were having on Windrush immigrants since 2013, and of having done nothing to remedy them. I quoted parts of the Guardian’s investigations on the subject, and take the opportunity to recommend also the outstanding articles – in the same newspaper – by Claude Moraes, President of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs of the European Parliament.

I emphasise the importance of the scandal because it sheds light on the driving force behind the Tory or Ukip Brexiteers. The whistleblower said he noticed a change in approach to these cases after the announcement of a policy, set out by Theresa May in 2012-2013, when she was home secretary, to “create a really hostile environment for illegal migrants”. Her plan is extremely restrictive, especially as regards provisions which require employers, NHS staff, private landlords and other bodies to demand evidence of people’s citizenship or immigration status.

I generally avoid quoting Kafka, but his description of the insanities of paperwork and bureaucratisation is more than appropriate. On his thirtieth birthday Josef K., the chief cashier of a bank, is unexpectedly arrested by two unidentified agents from an unspecified agency for an unspecified crime. The first chapter of The Trial begins with the words: “Someone must have been telling lies about Josef K., he knew he had done nothing wrong but, one morning, he was arrested”. That’s the reason why the scandal has been described as “Weaponising Paperwork” by William Davies, Co-Director of The Political Economy Research Centre in London: a scenario in which judiciary and bureaucracy “collapse into each other”, killing any hope and practice of justice.[7]

The first act of the drama begins with the 2014 Immigration Act, which formalises Theresa May’s aim to create the “hostile environment” and makes it harder for illegal immigrants to work and live in the UK. Landlords, employers, banks and NHS services are forced to run immigration status checks. “The policy – writes Davies – pushed the mentality of border control into everyday social and economic life”.

Then comes the second act: the 2016 Immigration Act further extends the former act, introducing tougher penalties for employers and landlords who fail to play their part in maintaining the “hostile environment”, and adding to the list of so called “privileges” that can be taken away from those who cannot prove their right to live and work in the UK.

A key feature of the 2014 Act was that it empowered the Home Office to deport people more quickly and cheaply, avoiding lengthy and repeated appeals. Three years later, on 14 June 2017, the ‘deport first, appeal later’ provision was ruled unlawful by the Supreme Court.

The recent publication of the UK Home Office concerning the prospects of the settled scheme entitled “EU Settlement Scheme: Statement of Intent” is equally alarming. It clearly states that the future immigration rules will be adopted as secondary legislation, hence allowing any future UK Government to make changes without the need to have a consent from the Parliament. It’s again the “Henry VIII” clause.

Furthermore, a new data protection bill has been recently adopted in UK and it excludes the application of the guarantees provided by the EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) for immigration purposes. On top of it, the position of the Tories regarding the European Convention on Human Rights is well-known.[8]

The third act is Brexit itself, followed by the moment of truth unveiled by the Windrush scandal.

We don’t know the following acts, nor the end of the “hostile environment” story. A detailed Withdrawal Agreement would certainly represent a progress, protecting millions of EU citizens in the UK and vice-versa, including Northern Irish citizens whose European rights are confirmed in the Withdrawal agreement and – in case of a no-deal scenario – safeguarded by the Good Friday Agreement. Without the Withdrawal agreement, EU citizens in the UK and British nationals in the EU-27 would be thrown down headlong from a legal limbo into a legal Hell. That’s why I said that the Withdrawal Agreement represents a safety net despite its evident shortcomings.

I ignore what will happen in Westminster and in the Tory Party, where a sort of political civil war is going on (the dogfight could be dubbed “Wolf Hall”, echoing Hilary Mantel’s novels). More generally, I would warn against speaking of a “happy ending”. All the deep social reasons leading to Brexit (despair, distrust, a sense of dispossession, the loss of sovereignty or control over oneself – or as Foucault might have put it: of mastery over oneself), and all the political and media misuses of such discontent (hostile-environment plans, disinformation, paperwork weaponised, disregard for individual and collective rights) remain, as one of the biggest challenges for future generations not only in the UK but in the whole of Europe.

[1] https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/233661/stress-test-by-timothy-f-geithner/

[2] Albert O. Hirschman, Exit, Voice, and Loyalty: Responses to Decline in Firms, Organizations, and States

[3] https://www.opendemocracy.net/uk/caroline-lucas/we-have-answers-to-brexit-s-causes

[4] https://www.tuc.org.uk/sites/default/files/Brexit%20Legal%20Opinion.pdf

[5] “Under a constitutive system people have to successfully apply in order to obtain a residence status. In case of rejection, an applicant will have no document certifying their status; as a result, they will lose all entitlements and ultimately face deportation. The consequences of not obtaining a ‘settled status’ document are thus far more serious than not obtaining a permanent residence card under EU law. In a declaratory system, absence of a document does not mean that you are not entitled. Even if your application is rejected you might still be able to stay on a temporary basis, or might be able to return under free movement provisions” (Stijn Smismans, Professor of Law, School of Law and Politics, Director of the Centre for European Law and Governance, Cardiff University). Cfr. http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2018/06/brexit-and-eu27-citizens-rights.html 

[6] https://publications.parliament.uk/pa/ld201617/ldselect/ldeucom/82/82.pdf (paragr. 121)

[7] https://www.lrb.co.uk/v40/n09/william-davies/weaponising-paperwork

[8] The political declaration setting out the framework for the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom, approved on November 22, mentions the ECHR in very limitative terms, in article 7: “The future relationship should incorporate the United Kingdom’s continued commitment to respect the framework of the European Convention on Human Rights (ECHR), while the Union and its Member States will remain bound by the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union, which reaffirms the rights as they result in particular from the ECHR” (my italics).

The hidden agenda of the Brexiteers

di mercoledì, aprile 18, 2018 0 , , , , Permalink

Bruxelles, 11 aprile 2018. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della tavola rotonda organizzata dalla Camera Federale del Lavoro austriaca (AK Europa) e dalla Confederazione austriaca dei sindacati (ÖGB) su “The impact of Brexit on workers’ rights”.

Relatori:

  • Professor Michael Ford QC – Università di Bristol
  • Frances O’Grady – Segretario Generale della Federazione Sindacale britannica (British Trades Union Congress – TUC)
  • Erich Foglar – Presidente della Confederazione austriaca dei sindacati (ÖGB

I would like to begin with the hidden agenda of Tory Brexiteers and others, knowing that Brexit is a complex phenomenon: many voters embraced Leave thinking they would get more, not less social rights.

What a majority of right-wingers really dislike in the Union is the web of regulations which are constitutive of the EU. When Theresa May speaks of a global, sovereign Britain, she transmits the false image of a giant power feeling tied down like Gulliver by Lilliputians, and having an only desire: to break free from the continental midgets and get unchained. Gulliver feels “several ligatures across his body”, and the EU with its norms represents the ligature – the name today is red-tape – to discard. Take back control is a mantra of the Brexiteers. The hidden text of the mantra is less democratic control, less obligations concerning workers’ rights.

All this is magical thinking: the EU social fabric has been already deregulated and devastated by years of austerity. Nonetheless, Tory and DUP Brexiteers continue to feel chained and want even less “ligatures” as far as rights are concerned. I refer to the rights deriving from the EU law and applicable not only to EU citizens living in UK and vice-versa, but also to British nationals living in the UK, including Northern Irish citizens who voted remain and have the right, thanks to the Good Friday Agreement, to choose the Irish – i.e. European – citizenship. Getting rid of the Charter of fundamental rights and of the jurisdiction of the European Court of justice is a key ingredient of the hidden agenda.

As I said, the EU is not today a paradise for those who suffer precariousness and exclusion (I prefer the word expulsion, used by Saskia Sassen). It was the EU Court of Justice who ruled, in the Viking Line and Laval cases, that employers’ rights always trump workers’ rights. So did the Alemo-Parkwood case regarding the directive on transfer of undertakings. Jacques Delors admitted the absence of a social dimension in the EU project in his speech given to the TUC Congress in 1988. He said that the single market should not diminish social protections and dismantle the labour market. A neoliberal agenda prevailed instead, privatising public services, cutting down pensions, wages and employment. The climax was reached by Greece’s fiscal waterboarding. The EU citizens’ trust in the Union collapsed: I personally see a strong link between the threatening talks about Grexit and the subsequent Brexit vote. What Delors said in ’89 is still true: “You cannot fall in love with the single market”.

But what is equally true is that workers’ rights will be badly hit by Brexit. A report of the TUC in February 2017 has shown that wages will be 38 pounds a week lower and there are other forecasts which look even grimmer. The EU – included the single market – offers despite all some shield against the market forces: it’s the truth emerged during the Brexit negotiations. Just an example: last November, the same EU Court of justice ruled in favour of a gig economy worker who never got a paid holiday in 13 years. Jason Moyer-Lee, General Secretary of the Independent Workers’ Union of Great Britain, observed that the judgement was “a striking reminder of the impending disaster for worker rights that is Brexit”. Part time work, work on demand and in general the gig-economy are protected by EU law much more than they will outside the EU, thanks to specific directives: in particular the directive on working times, as well as the directives on annual leaves, equal pay, maternity rights, parental leave, anti-discrimination laws, compensation for discrimination victims, temporary agency work protections, health and safety. The EU has regressed, but workers risk to be less protected without its directives.

I conclude with the loss of rights by the EU citizens in UK and viceversa. Despite Michel Barnier’s statement that there is now “complete agreement” on citizens’ rights, crucial legal uncertainties remain, as stressed by associations like The3Millions and British in Europe. The situation of at least 5 million people will change dramatically after Brexit and will be dependent on the Withdrawal Agreement. Furthermore, the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice for EU citizens in the UK will be time-limited, hence not guaranteeing them the life-long protection which has been explicitly promised to them by the EU negotiator Barnier.

That’s why the European Parliament must do its utmost to ensure that the full set of EU rights will be included in the Withdrawal Agreement. Post-Brexit citizens will be able to rely only on this treaty as a legal reference to protect their rights.

Brexit, difendere i diritti di sei milioni di cittadini

COMUNICATO STAMPA

Strasburgo, 13 marzo 2018. Barbara Spinelli è intervenuta nel corso della sessione plenaria del Parlamento europeo a proposito degli “Orientamenti sulle future relazioni tra l’Unione europea e il Regno Unito”, a seguito delle dichiarazioni del Consiglio e della Commissione.

Presenti al dibattito:

  • Jean-Claude Juncker – Presidente della Commissione europea
  •  Monika Panayotova – Vice Ministro incaricato della presidenza bulgara del Consiglio dell’UE nel 2018
  • Michel Barnier – Capo negoziatore incaricato di preparare e condurre i negoziati con il Regno Unito a norma dell’articolo 50 del TUE

Di seguito l’intervento:

«Nei giorni scorsi il Presidente del Consiglio Donald Tusk ha detto una cosa giusta ma incompleta: i negoziati sulle relazioni future non possono procedere, se il Regno Unito non offre sul Nord Irlanda soluzioni che rispettino il Good Friday Agreement e tutelino il diritto dei Nord Irlandesi ad avvalersi dello status di cittadini europei, dunque a esser protetti dalla legge dell’Unione in tutti i suoi aspetti. Di contro, è necessario che il negoziato continui sul tema cruciale della cittadinanza europea: un tema che non può abbandonare le nostre menti. Il Withdrawal Agreement, che avrà valore di nuova legge internazionale, deve essere perfezionato entro autunno. Né i Nord Irlandesi, né i cittadini europei in Gran Bretagna, né gli inglesi residenti nell’UE (in tutto più di sei milioni) possono tollerare oltre l’ansia e l’incertezza legale in cui vivono. I loro diritti di cittadinanza europea devono essere salvaguardati e recintati (ring-fenced) in tempo utile e bene».

Brexit-diritti dei cittadini: una speranza senza ottimismo

di venerdì, febbraio 2, 2018 0 , , Permalink

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.

Brexit, risoluzione del Parlamento Europeo: diritti dei cittadini garantiti solo in parte

Strasburgo, 13 dicembre. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della sessione plenaria del Parlamento Europeo

Punto in agenda (Key debate):

Preparazione del Consiglio europeo del 14 e 15 dicembre – Stato di avanzamento dei negoziati con il Regno Unito

Presenti al dibattito:

Michel Barnier, negoziatore UE sul Brexit
Jean-Claude Juncker, presidente della Commissione
Frans Timmermans, vicepresidente della Commissione
Matti Maasikas, Presidenza del Consiglio

Nelle sue linee guida il Consiglio ha promesso garanzie reciproche, effettive, eseguibili, non discriminatorie e globali sui diritti dei cittadini.

Nonostante i progressi compiuti, l’accordo preliminare raggiunto dai negoziatori non rispecchia ancora tali caratteri: la sua globalità è tutt’ora compromessa dall’assenza di cruciali diritti in tema di ricongiungimento familiare o libertà di circolazione degli inglesi nell’Unione (per citarne alcuni); le attuali caratteristiche del settled status contrastano con i principi di non-discriminazione e reciprocità, a detrimento dei cittadini europei nel Regno Unito; l’apertura mostrata dalla Commissione a possibili strumenti analoghi negli Stati Membri rischia di minare lo stesso diritto europeo; la reciprocità è altresì messa in dubbio, insieme all’effettività dei diritti, dal ruolo più che vago attribuito alla Corte di giustizia.

Oggi riconosceremo che sono stati fatti passi avanti. Tuttavia, la seconda fase negoziale dovrà servire a colmare le tante lacune e incertezze ancora esistenti e a garantire che il full set of rights derivante dal diritto europeo sia effettivamente tutelato. Non si tratta solo di certezza giuridica ma di tenere fede alla promessa per cui nulla cambierà nelle vite di milioni di cittadini.

Brexit: la commissione accetta il “settled status”?

Bruxelles, 14 novembre 2017. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della Riunione del Gruppo GUE/NGL.

Punto in agenda:

Scambio di opinioni con Michel Barnier, capo negoziatore della Commissione europea sul Brexit.

Barbara Spinelli è intervenuta in qualità di co-coordinatore per il gruppo GUE/NGL nel quadro dei negoziati avviati con il Regno Unito a seguito della notifica della sua intenzione di recedere dall’Unione europea.

La ringrazio per la sua presenza alla riunione del nostro Gruppo. Mi piacerebbe porle alcune domande legate soprattutto alla questione dei diritti dei cittadini.

Nel suo discorso di venerdì a Bruxelles lei ha affermato, a proposito delle procedure amministrative per ottenere il cosiddetto “settled status”, che “The UK has now provided useful clarifications that are a good basis for further work”, e che le procedure non devono essere costose né complicate. Se guardiamo però alla sostanza e non alle modalità, ci troviamo di fronte ad un nuovo status che riduce drasticamente i diritti di cui attualmente godono i cittadini dell’Unione e li trasforma in immigrati di Paesi terzi, che introduce un doppio requisito di registrazione per coloro che abbiano già ottenuto lo statuto di Residenza Permanente, che circoscrive la sua applicabilità solo a determinate categorie di “family members” e così via. Tutto ciò sembra in contraddizione con le direttive negoziali in cui si chiedevano garanzie giustiziabili, non discriminatorie e omnicomprensive per i diritti dei cittadini. Contraddice anche quanto Lei stesso ha detto il 21 settembre a Roma: ”È assolutamente necessario che tutti questi cittadini possano continuare a vivere come prima, con gli stessi diritti e le stesse protezioni”, e questo vita natural durante.

Mi piacerebbe conoscere la sua opinione sulla sostanza del “settled status”, non solo sulle sue modalità di applicazione.

La seconda domanda riguarda il Consiglio europeo di dicembre. Quali sviluppi ritiene necessari nell’ambito dei diritti dei cittadini per poter parlare di “progressi sufficienti”?

Terzo: essendo in costante contatto con le organizzazioni dei cittadini (the3million e British in Europe in primo luogo), le assicuro che la loro ansia è grande. Giudicano impossibile tracciare una linea di demarcazione netta all’interno dei progressi negoziali, prenderne qualcuno e tralasciarne altri. I diritti dei cittadini rappresentano un complesso inscindibile: per questo abbiamo più volte chiesto che venissero iscritti tutti insieme nell’accordo di recesso (proteggendoli dall’influenza di altre preoccupazioni negoziali attraverso quello che in inglese è chiamato “ring-fencing”). Il timore delle associazioni è che alcune questioni concernenti i diritti restino aperte quando inizierà il negoziato sui futuri rapporti commerciali, e siano oggetto di trattative in quell’ambito. Come rispondere a questi timori?

I diritti che corrono il rischio di restare irrisolti sono: i diritti dei figli di residenti europei nati dopo il recesso, il riconoscimento delle qualifiche professionali, le garanzie economiche e sociali, incluse quelle che vanno riconosciute ai lavoratori transfrontalieri: li aggiungerete ai punti centrali (riunificazione familiare, tutele giudiziarie, esportabilità dei benefici sociali) che la Commissione sta difendendo in questa prima fase dei negoziati?

Infine i britannici che risiedono nell’Unione a 27. Se il nostro compito è garantire che non ci saranno cambiamenti nella vita dei cittadini, come Lei ha detto e promesso più volte, mi sembra non coerente restringere i diritti dei britannici nell’Unione a 27 (tra cui molti transfrontalieri) al solo Paese dove risiedono al momento del recesso, come la Commissione si ostina a proporre e chiedere.

Brexit: come proteggere i diritti di 4,5 milioni di cittadini

Strasburgo, 3 ottobre 2017. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso della sessione plenaria del Parlamento europeo. 

Punto in agenda:

Stato di avanzamento dei negoziati con il Regno Unito

Presenti al dibattito:

Matti Maasikas – Vice-Ministro estone per gli Affari europei
Jean-Claude Juncker – Presidente della Commissione europea
Michel Barnier – Capo negoziatore incaricato di preparare e condurre i negoziati con il Regno Unito a norma dell’articolo 50 del TUE

Barbara Spinelli è intervenuta in qualità di co-relatore per il gruppo GUE/NGL della Proposta di Risoluzione sullo stato di avanzamento dei negoziati con il Regno Unito e di co-coordinatore per il gruppo GUE/NGL nel quadro dei negoziati avviati con il Regno Unito a seguito della notifica della sua intenzione di recedere dall’Unione europea.

Con la risoluzione congiunta che sarà oggi messa al voto, questo Parlamento esprimerà un giudizio chiaro, che approvo: ancora non è possibile parlare di progressi sufficienti sui diritti dei cittadini, e la questione nord-irlandese è lungi dall’essere risolta.

Fin d’ora tuttavia mi chiedo: quale sarà la sorte degli accordi sui cittadini, il giorno in cui li considereremo sufficienti? Come potremo metterli al riparo da improvvise regressioni, dettate dal principio secondo cui “nothing is agreed until everything is agreed?

Saremo veramente disposti a chiedere ancora – agli europei nel Regno Unito, agli inglesi nell’Unione – di mettere in stand-by il loro futuro in attesa dell’accordo finale? Un’altra domanda concerne la libertà di movimento: quel che temo è che si profitti del Brexit per ridurre anche nell’Unione tale libertà, soprattutto per i lavori poco qualificati.

Spero che non vi saranno compromessi su questo. Che proteggeremo lo status di tutti i cittadini europei senza alcuna condizionalità.

Nonostante l’evidente unicità dell’accordo di recesso, è più che mai necessario spezzare il vincolo di dipendenza dell’accordo sui diritti da altri capitoli negoziali. In gioco non è solo una questione di certezza giuridica, ma la garanzia concreta a favore di milioni di cittadini.

PCE/PEC – Riconoscimento dei diritti di cittadinanza dei cittadini del Regno Unito negli altri Stati membri dell’UE e accordo sui diritti dei cittadini non britannici dell’UE nel Regno Unito

Interrogazione con richiesta di risposta scritta
al Consiglio (Presidente del Consiglio Europeo)
Articolo 130 del regolamento
24 maggio 2017

Julie Ward (S&D), Jean Lambert (Verts/ALE), Helga Trüpel (Verts/ALE), Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL), Catherine Bearder (ALDE), Bart Staes (Verts/ALE), Alfred Sant (S&D), Eugen Freund (S&D), Alex Mayer (S&D), Tomáš Zdechovský (PPE), Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL), Heidi Hautala (Verts/ALE), Ricardo Serrão Santos (S&D), Jean-Paul Denanot (S&D), Ernest Urtasun (Verts/ALE), Valentinas Mazuronis (ALDE), Tania González Peñas (GUE/NGL), Hilde Vautmans (ALDE), Pascal Durand (Verts/ALE), Viorica Dăncilă (S&D), Kateřina Konečná (GUE/NGL)

Oggetto:  PCE/PEC — Riconoscimento dei diritti di cittadinanza dei cittadini del Regno Unito negli altri Stati membri dell’UE e accordo sui diritti dei cittadini non britannici dell’UE nel Regno Unito

Dal referendum del 23 giugno 2016 nel Regno Unito, i cittadini degli Stati membri dell’UE nel Regno Unito e i cittadini del Regno Unito in altri Stati membri dell’UE provano un senso di incertezza, ansia e angoscia circa la loro situazione e quella delle loro famiglie.

L’organizzazione «New Europeans» e altre organizzazioni della società civile hanno messo in luce la profonda preoccupazione dei cittadini per quanto riguarda la loro possibilità di beneficiare dei diritti che derivano dalla loro cittadinanza europea, compreso il diritto di rimanere nello Stato membro in cui risiedono, e mantenere il loro diritto alla vita privata e familiare, quale sancito nella Carta dei diritti fondamentali dell’UE e nella Convenzione europea dei diritti dell’uomo.

I cittadini si rammaricano profondamente di essere utilizzati come merce di scambio nei negoziati sulla Brexit.

A prescindere dalla posizione del Regno Unito, presente o futura, può il Presidente indicare se intende raccomandare al Consiglio europeo di impegnarsi a mantenere i diritti di cittadinanza dell’UE per i cittadini britannici in altri Stati membri dell’UE, e a far sì che questi restino in vigore a prescindere dall’esito dei negoziati con il Regno Unito?

Intende inoltre il Presidente sostenere che le garanzie sui diritti dei cittadini dell’UE non britannici nel Regno Unito debbano essere oggetto di un accordo separato con il Regno Unito e non essere influenzate dall’esito dei negoziati su altri argomenti?

__

Risposta
17 luglio 2017

Il presidente del Consiglio europeo si è impegnato a rispondere alle interrogazioni parlamentari nella misura in cui queste riguardino le sue attività politiche. Poiché i negoziati con il Regno Unito a norma dell’articolo 50 del TUE non rientrano nel campo d’applicazione di tale impegno, il presidente del Consiglio europeo non è in grado di rispondere all’interrogazione posta dagli onorevoli parlamentari.

Brexit: i diritti da salvaguardare

di venerdì, maggio 12, 2017 0 , , , Permalink

Bruxelles, 11 maggio 2017. Intervento di Barbara Spinelli nel corso dell’Audizione congiunta organizzata dalle commissioni parlamentari Libertà civili, giustizia e affari interni (LIBE), Petizioni (PETI) e Occupazione e affari sociali (EMPL) “La situazione e i diritti dei cittadini dell’UE nel Regno Unito”.

Partecipanti:

MESSAGGIO DI BENVENUTO

  • Claude MORAES, presidente della commissione per le libertà civili, la giustizia e gli affari interni
  • Cecilia WIKSTRÖM, presidente della commissione per le petizioni
  • Renate WEBER, vicepresidente della commissione per l’occupazione e gli affari sociali

CONSIDERAZIONI INTRODUTTIVE

  • Guy VERHOFSTADT, capo negoziatore del Parlamento europeo per la Brexit

ORATORI

  • Anne-Laure DONSKOY, rappresentante del gruppo “The 3 million”
  • Jan DOERFEL, avvocato specializzato in immigrazione nel Regno Unito
  • Charlie JEFFERY, professore presso l’Università di Edimburgo
  • Julia ONSLOW-COLE, partner, responsabile dei mercati dei servizi legali e direttore dei Servizi di immigrazione globale presso PwC, Londra
  • Jonathan PORTES, professore di economia e politiche pubbliche presso il Dipartimento di economia politica del King’s College di Londra

BREVE PRESENTAZIONE DA PARTE DI DUE FIRMATARI DI PETIZIONI

  • Leona Bashow, cittadina britannica, sulla perdita involontaria della cittadinanza europea in seguito all’esito del referendum britannico
  • Anne Wilkinson, cittadina britannica, sull’inalienabilità dei diritti dei cittadini dell’UE

Sono inoltre intervenuti, per una breve presentazione, due esponenti delle seguenti organizzazioni:

  • “New Europeans”
  • “British in Europe”

Ascoltando gli interventi straordinari dei firmatari delle petizioni, ho pensato alla responsabilità di chi non ha indicato, fin dall’inizio della campagna referendaria, il disastro cui si andava incontro. La prima responsabilità è certamente della classe politica inglese: quella di aver mentito sulla reale possibilità di preservare i diritti dopo l’uscita dall’Unione – una possibilità che, come emerso, è di difficile, se non di impossibile realizzazione. Ma la colpa è anche nostra, delle istituzioni europee: di non aver saputo insistere con forza, durante la stessa campagna referendaria, sui rischi che si stavano correndo a fronte di un Paese che annunciava la volontà di sottrarsi alla Convenzione europea dei diritti dell’uomo e – con l’uscita dall’Unione – alla Carta dei diritti fondamentali. Adesso si tratta di recuperare il tempo perduto e di battersi affinché la questione dei diritti civili e sociali sia affrontata e risolta fin da principio. Troppo grande è la paura che c’è ora in Inghilterra e grande è il rischio che questa paura si accompagni alle già acute forme di xenofobia che si stanno diffondendo in questo Paese.

Per questo sono d’accordo con la signora Donskoy sul fatto che la formula “nulla è concordato finché tutto non è concordato” (“nothing is agreed until everything is agreed”), contenuta negli orientamenti approvati dal Consiglio europeo, sia di per sé una formula sbagliata. L’accordo sui diritti va concluso immediatamente.

Concordo anche con la proposta di Guy Verhofstadt di redigere una Risoluzione parlamentare sul tema dei diritti. La ritengo necessaria e utile, ed è altresì importante che sia specifica: uno strumento che sia quindi idoneo a esercitare una reale pressione sui governi e che faccia capire all’Inghilterra e ai cittadini impauriti che questa volta li ascoltiamo veramente, che non facciamo finta di non vedere il pericolo che abbiamo davanti.

Brexit: I cittadini vulnerabili rischiano di non riprendere il controllo cui aspirano, ma di perderlo

di mercoledì, aprile 5, 2017 0 , , Permalink

Strasburgo, 5 aprile 2017. Barbara Spinelli è intervenuta nel corso della sessione plenaria del Parlamento europeo in qualità di co-relatore della Proposta di Risoluzione del gruppo GUE/NGL sui negoziati con il Regno Unito a seguito della notifica della sua intenzione di recedere dall’Unione europea.

Nel corso delle votazioni, il Parlamento ha approvato, con 516 voti a favore, 133 contrari e 50 astenuti, la Risoluzione comune presentata dai Gruppi PPE, S&D, ALDE, GUE/NGL e Verdi/ALE.

Di seguito l’intervento:

«Sono d’accordo con l’impianto della risoluzione congiunta, anche se non contiene le autocritiche che avrei desiderato. Ma nella difesa dei diritti dei cittadini è più precisa delle linee guida del Consiglio europeo.

La nostra battaglia parlamentare comincia oggi, e spero che tutti saremo vigilanti su due punti cruciali: i diritti dell’Irlanda del Nord, garantiti dal Good Friday Agreement, e quelli di milioni di cittadini che vivono nel Regno Unito, provenienti dall’Unione o no.

In Irlanda sono in gioco la pace o la guerra. Per i cittadini sono in gioco i fondamenti normativi dell’Unione. Preferisco parlare di fondamenti normativi più che di valori, troppo soggettivi dunque opinabili.

Il Brexit da questo punto di vista mi preoccupa. Milioni di cittadini europei nel Regno Unito, e di britannici nell’Unione, rischiano di perdere diritti fondamentali – sia sociali che civili – attualmente garantiti dal diritto europeo. Uno degli scopi del Brexit è il Great Repeal Bill: che cancellerà tale diritto, creerà un’economia ancora più sregolata, e potrebbe preludere all’uscita dalla Convenzione dei diritti dell’uomo.

Ecco un equivoco della campagna sul Brexit: i cittadini vulnerabili rischiano di non riprendere il controllo cui aspirano, ma di perderlo. Solo a una condizione vedranno tutelati precisi diritti acquisiti: che questi ultimi non diventino merce di scambio, e che siano iscritti nero su bianco nell’accordo di recesso. Spetta a questo Parlamento dare certezze legali e fiducia agli Irlandesi del Nord e ai cittadini impauriti. Spetta a noi capire i nostri errori, e costruire un’Unione sociale che eviti il rigetto di tanti suoi cittadini, e una fuga dall’Europa che dovremo prima o poi cercare di comprendere».

Materiali:
Risoluzione GUE/NGL
Risoluzione comune (testo presentato per il voto)