Green card plan gets boost with European award

New Europeans founder Roger Casale shows one of the proposed European green cards

Pro-EU group New Europeans which has championed a ‘European green card’ scheme to safeguard free movement rights post-Brexit is hoping for a boost after it received a prestigious European award.

The green card plan, which Connexion covered in our February edition should get “a lot of traction” with the new European Parliament after the group received the Schwarzkopf Europe Award from former EP President Martin Schulz last night said founder Roger Casale.

It comes after Roger Casale was invited to speak about the proposed green card to the EP’s constitutional affairs committee (AFCO) on March 18 this year and its civil liberties committee last year.

The idea of the green card is that Britons who have obtained EU permanent residency rights due to living abroad in the EU for at least five years before Brexit would be issued with a card guaranteeing continuing rights, including free movement across the EU.

The card could also be presented at the French border on return from a trip outside the EU (such as to the UK) to show that the holder does not need an Etias, the online compulsory application for permission for non-EU visitors to the EU which is due to start in 2021. In daily life it could confirm the holder should be treated for practical purposes as if they were an EU citizen.

“It would not be a way to secure residency rights but, once secured, it would ring-fence your other rights as an EU citizen, in particular free movement,” Mr Casale told Connexion.

For EU citizens living in the UK before Brexit, it would be proof of their ‘settled status’ (in the UK there will not be cards but a system of proof online).

New Europeans, founded in London by former Labour MP Mr Casale and now active in several EU countries from its Brussels base, won the Schwarzkopf Europe Award after an online poll among 18-35-year-olds across the EU.

It is for those who have given “committed and dedicated service to either European understanding or the growing together of Europe”.

Mr Casale said he now hopes to be invited back to the European Parliament again once the new MEPs take their seats.

The AFCO committee gave “very positive” feedback to the group’s proposals in March, he said.

“It was right at the end of the parliament and they invited me then because they didn’t want to let it slip; they wanted to get the session in.

“But they said it was really to put down a marker for the next parliament and they want us back in the next one as soon as possible.”

The committee also said they would like to see the European Commission engaging more with this, he said.

“But I told them we want to go to the commission through the parliament, not directly. Because the commission is in lock-down on Brexit-related matters as it waits to see if the withdrawal agreement will be signed off.”

Mr Casale said the AFCO committee’s chairwoman Danuta Hübner has been reelected and may be reinstated again.

New Europeans has also been campaigning to propose that the Brexit ‘deal’ should be passed by MPs but with a clause making this dependent on holding another referendum, with choices of confirming the deal or remaining in the EU.

“That was mentioned last night by Martin Shultz very favourably. It also got a lot of traction in the [British] parliament, but didn’t go through,” Mr Casale said.

“Now Theresa May’s going, we’re probably moving away from the prospects of compromise, so it may come down to leaving without a deal or revoke.

“There isn’t a majority in parliament for either, but they will be forced to make a choice. I think there are plenty of Conservative MPs who would leave the party if a new prime minister tries to take Britain out without a deal.

“I don’t think British will leave without a deal, but it is a very scary time ahead of us.”

British pro-EU campaigner Madeleina Kay, who Connexion interviewed last year, spoke in Berlin last night on behalf of the jury which nominated New Europeans for the public vote.

She said New Europeans “has the values of the European Union at its heart” and “is committed to building a Europe of cooperation, integration, equality and diversity that celebrates the value of European citizenship”. It also champions free movement and challenges perceptions of migrants with a “positive narrative”.

Ms Kay said the green card plan aims to help end the anxiety suffered by EU citizens living abroad in the UK and by British citizens living abroad in the EU.

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