BREMAIN IN SPAIN, a group campaigning for the rights of British citizens in Spain, was part of a delegation to the UK Embassy in Madrid on April 19.
The purpose of the meeting, attended by representatives from a coalition of 11 UK citizens' groups working in Europe, was to discuss the post-Brexit rights of more than one million UK citizens living in the EU where they met virtually with the Rt. Hon. David Jones - Minster of State for the Department for Exiting the EU.
The meeting was the start of an exchange of information and dialogue to illustrate the complex and intertwined nature of the rights that British citizens currently hold in the EU.
The delegation urged the UK government to abide by the principles set forth in its recent Alternative White Paper, which asks all sides in the upcoming negotiations first to agree that "the UK's withdrawal from the EU should not have retrospective effect on individuals" and that "UK citizens currently resident in the EU and EU citizens currently resident in the UK should be expressly treated as continuing to have the same rights as they had before Brexit".
The delegation also called on the government to promise UK pensioners living in the EU that their pensions will continue to be updated after Brexit.
Furthermore, it is urging EU negotiators and governments to change their position so that an agreement on the rights of British citizens in Europe and the three million EU citizens in the UK can be "ring-fenced" and will stand if there is no wider agreement.
Sue Wilson, Chair of Bremain in Spain, comments: "We were encouraged by the clear indication that this was the start of an on-going dialogue. The fact that our concerns were taken seriously and our input was clearly of value was also encouraging.
“However, it was slightly disappointing that limits were placed on what we are permitted to share - such a different approach from the transparency of the recent meeting with Michel Barnier - but it was a positive start.
“We will continue to present questions and case studies and hope that the government will discuss the issues more publicly, moving forwards. As we say in Spain, poco a poco (little by little)."