A new group for European-minded Britons has now formally launched as a French association.
One of the main goals is providing support to the pro bono cases of French lawyer Julien Fouchet, who has been fighting for the rights of Britons in France since 2017 when The Connexion revealed his work to the English-speaking community.
Ultimately, the hope is for the EU to restore their EU citizenship, perhaps for all those holding a Britons’ residency card.
EUBritizens has no paid-for membership but is inviting any Britons attached to their European identity to join it on Facebook or Twitter or contribute. The latter page is replacing a previous crowdfunder to support Mr Fouchet’s Brexit cases on crowdjustice.com. A website will also launch at eubritizens.eu
The association hopes a key case, for Alice Bouilliez from Gers, will obtain initial hearing in the European Court of Justice this month or in June.
It is being combined with a similar one from Belgium. The cases aim to show that loss of Britons’ rights due to Brexit, such as local election voting, has a disproportionate impact on people’s lives.
Secretary Terence Knott, an ex-marine from the Alpes-Maritimes, said: “It’s something that was done to us without our say, and it has impinged on our way of life and human and democratic rights.
“We are really working together as a team to make a meaningful impact on behalf of 1.4million Britons in the EU. We feel energised and positive.”
Transparency over finances will be “incredibly important”, he added.
Mr Knott said the group hopes to “persuade the EU we are worthwhile citizens who are part of the European dream”. They carried out a survey on Brexit impacts which flagged up “heartbreaking” stories.
“Families being divided, people’s qualifications not being recognised, losing driving licences...
“It is potentially a headache for the EU to have so many residents who are unhappy with what has happened to them,” he said.
“There seems to be a groundswell of MEPs sympathetic to our plight.”
Communications representative Grazia Valentino-Boschi said the effects were “more and more obvious” since full Brexit, so she hoped this would be persuasive to the court, as the problems can no longer be dismissed as hypothetical.
She said she hopes to use her IT knowhow to “set up Twitter storms” to publicise the group. “We need to reach as wide a range of Britons in Europe as possible,” she said. They will encourage people to write to MEPs.
The group also plans to lobby EU leaders, such as the Commission president, or Guy Verhofstadt MEP to seek support for the European Court of Justice case.