Brits living in Italy are celebrating after the Italian government gave them “the best possible Christmas present”, said campaigners from expat group British in Italy.
Italian government officials have confirmed that they are working on plans to secure the rights of the tens of thousands of British citizens living here after Brexit.
Deal or no deal, officials at Palazzo Chigi in Rome said Brits in Italy will not be waking up on March 30th 2019 as irregolari, with no right to live and work in their adopted home country; a possibility that has been fuelling anxiety among the country’s British residents ever since the referendum vote.
High-level officials from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs met with and confirmed to the committee of British in Italy that all British nationals legally resident in Italy on 29th March 2019 will continue to be legally resident and will keep their existing rights to work, the group stated in a press release this morning.
“We are absolutely delighted with this wonderful news for British citizens in Italy,” Anne Parry of British in Italy told The Local.
'”So many people have been so worried about what is going to happen on March 30th and now we can all relax and enjoy the Christmas break,” she said.
“So many people have sent messages of thanks and support, often sharing their tears of joy and photos of bottles of Prosecco, so we are very relieved and happy today. “
“We feel we are truly welcome in Italy and part of the great European community.'
A video posted by the group yesterday announcing the news has already been viewed 12,000 times on Facebook and Youtube
“This is an indication of the anxiety people have been facing,” said Parry.
“This makes Italy “the first EU27 country to publicly declare their plans for citizens’ rights post-Brexit, and to provide the reassurance we have been awaiting so long,” it said.
Italian officials have confirmed that contingency planning for the event of a no-deal Brexit is “well advanced,” the group said.
“Whilst many of our existing EU rights were provided for under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, until now we were facing the prospect of becoming ‘irregolari’ with no rights to reside, to employment, to healthcare, to social security or family reunion should there be No Deal, the so-called ‘Hard Brexit’.” British in Italy wrote.
Many had been hoping for the EU to protect British ctizens' rights. But it was made clear yesterday that this wasn’t going to happen, after the European Commission advised that this should be dealt with by individual member states – and asked them to be “generous”.
The EU Commission’s paper on Contingency Planning, published on December 19th, confirmed that without legislation at individual state level, British citizens living in Europe would become illegal or irregular migrants on 29th March 2019.
Many British residents in Italy and elsewhere in Europe have spoken of their anger and frustration at being abandoned by both the UK government and the EU.
1/ Dear @EU_Commission, your refusal to ring-fence the #citizensrights already agreed in the Withdrawal Agreement is undermining the principle of Freedom of Movement. No one can ever fully rely on FoM again to build their lives in any of the remaining EU27 states #RescueOurRights https://t.co/PqbL51m6kn
— the3million (@The3Million) December 20, 2018
Rome is now busy preparing legislation that will in effect by 29th March 2019, protecting the rights of all those British nationals legally resident in Italy on that date.
Palazzo Chigi released its own statement today on Italy's preparations for no-deal Brexit, which says it's working to guarantee the rights of Italian citizens in the Uk, as well as British citizens in Italy.
British in Italy members stressed that all British citizens living in Italy must obtain legal residency status by that date in order to ensure their rights are protected by the Italian government.
There are some 26,000 registered Brits living in Italy, but as many are not legally registered, some estimates say the true figure could be as high as 65,000
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