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British in Europe is a community of grassroots citizens’ organisations and the largest grouping of UK citizens in the EU. It was founded in early 2017 to give UK citizens living, working and studying across the EU a voice in the Brexit negotiations.
We are the organisation of reference on citizens’ rights for UK nationals in the EU. Since 2017 we have been recognised by the British government, the European Commission, the Council and the European Parliament as trusted interlocutors, meeting secretaries of state, ministers in member states and key EU and British officials.
Our Steering Team has campaigned jointly with the3million, which represents EU27 citizens in the UK. Together, we pressed to keep our existing rights and to prevent Brexit from destroying the lives and families we have created whilst exercising those rights.
For our advocacy, we have produced dossiers highlighting the human and legal cost of Brexit for the 1.2 million UK citizens in the EU. We have given evidence at the European Parliament, Westminster and national and regional parliaments around the EU. With the3million, we have explained our plight to senior politicians such as Michel Barnier, Stephen Barclay, Guy Verhofstadt, Katarina Barley and Nathalie Loiseau. We have provided expert analysis across the media and built up a strong social media presence to show how losing our rights will affect our everyday lives.
While we said that we would wind down our activities on the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) due to lack of funding in 2022, we have in fact continued to do work in this area on an entirely voluntary basis because we could not ignore the serious and complex cases that were coming up. We continue to work on WA and other rights of UK citizens in the EU, albeit at a reduced level.
What we have achieved so far:
The Withdrawal Agreement:
Working with the3million, British in Europe ensured that citizens’ rights was the top priority in negotiations. We had a major impact on the citizens’ rights chapter, feeding into each round of negotiations. We highlighted areas such as dual national rights and the need for clarity on healthcare and social security. We persuaded both sides to extend the right of absence for permanent residents from two to five years. We widened the initial focus of negotiators to ensure that issues affecting UK nationals of working age and particularly young people were prioritised.
Implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement
The advocacy of BiE country groups has affected member states’ decisions to choose between declaratory and constitutive systems to secure our rights. For example, we believe that British in Germany‘s campaign for a declaratory system has had a clear impact given Germany's decision to opt for a declaratory system.
UK Government Issues:
We obtained a commitment that UK nationals in the EU27 wishing to study in Britain will be entitled to pay home university fees instead of expensive international fees for seven years from the end of the transition period. We also obtained a grace period until 29 March 2022 for British citizens returning to the UK with non-British family members without having to meet the requirements of normally applicable UK immigration law.
BiE has provided clear and accurate information on citizens’ rights for the UK nationals we represent. Our explainers have helped thousands of people in the EU. To governments and the media, we have supplied expert analysis with a strong legal basis on complex issues such as working rights, professional qualifications, pensions, healthcare and mobile citizens.
To view British in Europe's activity by year, click on the relevant year: