Longer online version

Brexodus?

RECENT developments, some positive, could affect our many journalist colleagues from other EU nation states. They need everybody's support as they face continuing uncertainty over their status in the UK post-Brexit.

Pro-EU rally; Matt Salusbury

Pro-EU march in London in March 2017 - 'We are not your bargaining chips' placard referring to the fate of EU nationals visible on the left

Following the UK's unimpressive "offer" in June on the status of EU nationals, the UK's Brexit negotiators conceded in August that the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) would continue to run in the UK "directly or indirectly" for some time after Brexit.

A transitional arrangement will be in place for at least two, possibly four years after Britain formally leaves the EU. During this period, and possibly after it, the ECJ will still have power to rule on "dispute resolution" cases brought by individual EU citizens against another state, including its immigration authorities. That would include the Home Office. In an important concession, the ECJ will effectively guarantee the rights of EU citizens against whatever the Home Office tries to do to them. Precedents that have already been set will still apply.

Freedom of movement - the right of EU nationals to travel to, find work in and settle in any member state - will still include the current right of EU nationals to travel to, work and live in the UK during "transitional arrangements", it was also announced in August. The "transitional" period will persist for at least two years after the date of formal Brexit (no earlier than March 2019) and possibly longer - three or even four years have been suggested.

Also in mid-August, the Home Office finally apologised to over 1000 EU nationals who had received letters telling them to prepare for deportation from the UK after they had applied for Permanent Residence. The Home Office regretted its "unfortunate error", but stopped short of addressing the three-figure sums some recipients of the letters had then spent on legal fees, in the reasonable belief that they had to fight their deportation.

Nationals of some EU member states face additional problems if they chose to settle in the UK and naturalise as UK citizens.

Dutch nationals can't acquire dual nationality - if they assume another nationality they have to give up their original one. While immigrants to the Netherlands can keep their original nationality and become Dutch citizens as well, Dutch nationals have to surrender their nationality on becoming a citizen of another country unless they're married to a national of that country. Plans earlier this year to introduce legislation into the Dutch Parliament to allow citizens of the Netherlands to acquire dual nationality seem to have faltered.

German nationals who obtain another nationality can usually only retain German citizenship if their new nationality (British, for example) is within the EU. It's not yet clear whether Germans can become UK citizens and stay German after the UK ceases to be in the EU.

Meanwhile, the future status of UK nationals living in other EU countries remains uncertain, with predictions that they could lose their rights to reside and work there (once transitional arrangements expire) should the UK and the EU not reach a deal by March 2019. So little progress has been made in these negotiations that it was reported this summer that some EU negotiators believed their UK counterparts must have some sort of fiendishly cunning plan up their sleeves. They reportedly eventually realised that they were in fact dealing with ineptitude after all.

The prospect of UK nationals being left unable to settle in the rest of the EU could potentially affect many of our freelance members, including members of NUJ Branches in Brussels, Paris and the Netherlands. UK national journalists in Ireland will probably be less affected: the UK and Ireland are in a Common Travel Area which predates the EU.

A "Brexodus" - an exodus of UK nationals rushing to retire in the EU (mostly to Spain) while they still have freedom of movement has reportedly already started. The Express reported an exodus in the other direction, with 20 per cent of the city of Valencia's UK nationals leaving Spain for the UK, uncertain of their future.

There's another pro-EU People's March for Europe on Saturday 9 September, assembling at Park Lane, London W1 at 11 am. The last one in March, barely reported in the UK press, was absolutely huge.

There's also a mass lobby of Parliament (seeking out your MP to talk to them on a particular issue) on behalf of EU citizens in the UK on Wednesday 13 September at the Houses of Parliament from 2pm, followed by a rally.