"I have never welcomed the weakening of family ties by politics or pressure" - Nelson Mandela.
"He who travels for love finds a thousand miles no longer than one" - Japanese proverb.
"Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence." - Article 8 of the European Convention on Human Rights.
"When people's love is divided by law, it is the law that needs to change". -
David Cameron.

Sunday, 17 February 2013

Comms : Europe

When we originally kicked off the BritCits campaign (before this blog and the associated Twitter feed were set up), we had the idea of approaching potentially interested parties with the campaign pack which includes a statement on the rules and what they mean, as well the stories of individuals affected. We sent a lot of these packs to political figures (especially those we believe are sympathetic ), around 200 MPs, various civil society groups, the media, and so on, with some success. So we received a number of replies back and entered into various correspondences, which will be uploaded as time goes on.

Relevant to the recent blog by Chris Mead on 'Family Unity - the European Way' are the letters, linked below, which were received in response to packs sent to European Commissioners Viviane Reding and Cecilia Malmstrom, who have responsibility for justice and for home affairs respectively. The letters confirm that the European authorities (at least these European authorities) do not have authority, or at not able to intervene on behalf of British citizens who are affected by the rules.

Response on behalf of Viviane Reding : http://www.scribd.com/doc/125908671/Comms-Reding
Response on behalf of Cecilia Malmstrom : http://www.scribd.com/doc/125908678/Comms-Malmstrom

Note : All uploaded comms will be uploaded to Scribd for now - here : http://www.scribd.com/sjplep/documents

However - there is a ray of hope; namely the 'European path to family unity', which both replies allude to. As Chris says in his article :

The EEA family permit makes it possible for British citizens who have been “exercising treaty rights” in another EEA country (i.e. having lived and worked in another EEA country) to return to the UK with their non-EEA spouse. It is also free, being a part of European free movement legislation and is enabled by a European court judgement called ‘Surinder Singh’, which allows a person to exercise their treaty rights not only in other member states, but in their country of origin too.

More on Surinder Singh here and here. It is important to bear in mind that Singh rights need to be exercised in an economic way :

The directive [on the right to move and reside freely] applies to any EEA citizen that is moving to and living in an EEA state other than his own. (The exclusion is based on the principle of non-interference with purely national issues). However, it also applies when a European citizen is moving back to his home country after staying abroad, as defined in the case of Surinder Singh.[5] For dual citizens with two EEA nationalities the directive can apply in any EEA state...

To be fully covered by the European right of free movement, the EEA citizen needs to exercise one of the four treaty rights:

  • working as an employee (this includes looking for work for a reasonable amount of time),
  • working as a self-employed person,
  • studying,
  • being self-sufficient or retired.

Family members are also covered by the right of free movement, but only as a dependent of the EEA citizen. The right is limited to the EEA state in which the EEA citizen is exercising treaty rights. In certain cases (e.g. divorce after at least 3 years of marriage where 1 year must have been spent in the host member state), the family member can retain the right of residence. A family member is defined as:

  • the spouse (unless in a marriage of convenience),
  • the registered same-sex partner (but only in a state where same-sex relationships are recognised),
  • a child under the age of 21, or
  • a dependent child or parent (of the EEA citizen or partner).

To those considering the Surinder Singh route :
We strongly believe that British citizens shouldn’t have to leave their own homes to live without recourse to public funds with their loved ones, but for those who don't want to wait for a change in rules and are able to consider moving elsewhere, see below.

http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/policyandlaw/guidance/ecg/eun/eun2/#header14 http://www.ukba.homeoffice.gov.uk/sitecontent/documents/policyandlaw/ecis/  (chapter 2 especially)


For those with British children (such as where one parent is British, the other a non-EEA citizen, for example), the Zambrano case may be relevant. http://www.freemovement.org.uk has written about this on several occasions, and we may write more on it here in the future (though we couldn't hope to match freemovement's expertise and extensive experience).


(from 2011) In a judgment just out, Zambrano v ONEm Case C-34/0 the European Court of Justice seems to have held that the parents of a child who is a national of a Member State must be granted the right to work and the right of residence in that Member State in order to protect the right of the child to live in Europe.

This is an astonishing proposition, if my reading of the case is correct, and represents a massive extension of the principle in the Chen case.


The judgment of the Court of Justice of the European Union in the case of Zambrano (C-34/09) may mark the watershed between the history of European Community free movement law and the future of unconditional European Union citizenship rights.



Below is a link with practical information about applying for a Zambrano visa :


And this is why the executive must never meddle with an independent judiciary, in a free and democratic society which protects the rights and freedoms of minorities as well as the will of the majority.

(In the news : Theresa May 'picking a fight' with judges on immigration). More here.

Picking a fight with independent judges is very bad for the rule of law.


So, we had a nice trip to the Essex coast today and a wonderful lunch at the Mistley Thorn . It's a great place and should come as no surprise that it is run by an immigrant.

We also saw the memorial to the Kindertransport in Harwich. (more - more). I'd already seen the memorial at Liverpool Street of course, but this is a timely reminder of where irresponsible populism can lead.


More useful links on Zambrano (added 20/Feb) :


The amended regulations will set out the rights of EEA nationals and their family members to enter and reside in the UK and will also confirm the criteria for rights to permanent residence.


EUN01 - EEA nationals.

This is internal guidance for use by visa staff on the handling of applications made outside the United Kingdom (UK). It is a live document under constant review and is for information only.


  1. The Zambrano ruling is all well and good, but as freemovement.org suggests, consider a family where one spouse is a British citizen, the other spouse non-EEA, and they have a child who is also a British citizen. The British citizens automatically have right of abode in the UK. As far as I can see, the non-EEA citizen cannot be denied right of residence (we're not talking about citizenship here, or the right to benefits, etc.) without either or both of the British spouse or the child of either the right of abode or the right to a family life.

  2. Anonymous - I agree with you! I also think that this is a valid case on Article 8 grounds - as Raza Husain says here : http://www.jcwi.org.uk/blog/2012/12/04/jcwi-agm-raza-husain-qc-speaks-legal-challenges-family-immigration-rules it is the exceptional case where the right to a family life has to give way; the 'normal' case is that families (both in terms of the parent-child relationship, and the couples relationship, indeed elderly dependants and so on) stay together.

    It seems to me to be a very strange way of thinking indeed that the natural rights of families give way to artificial constructs like borders. 'The family is the natural and fundamental group unit of society and is entitled to protection by society and the State.' - http://www.un.org/en/documents/udhr/index.shtml

    Thanks for your comment.