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New report highlights #refugees in Europe

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The European Foundation for Democracy is a Brussels-based policy institute dedicated to upholding Europe’s fundamental values of freedom and equality, regardless of gender, ethnicity or religion. This week they launched their report "Refugees in Europe - Review of Intergration Practices and Policies".

The report says:  "One of the greatest challenges facing twenty first century Europe is the mass migration and integration of refugees who cross borders in search of safer lives. This report analyses the wide-ranging issues relating to the integration of refugees in seven European countries and presents our key findings – both in terms of good practices and areas for concern – as well as recommendations for change.

Although the 2015 migration crisis has subsided, a number of issues related to the crisis persist, challenging the liberal democratic values, safety and socio-economic cohesion of Europe. It is increasingly evident that these problems will endure and, in some instances, worsen over time. Given this, the European Foundation for Democracy (EFD) undertook this research project, conscious that the way Europe copes with the refugee crisis will have a lasting impact on European societies, as well as on how successfully the European Union (EU) will stay true to the values and principles which define it. The aim of this report is to present measures for improvement on a national and Europe-wide level, offering macro and micro recommendations based on research carried out across seven countries. Our research reveals that a delay will not only allow current issues to persist, but will also prove costlier for Europe; should policymakers fail to invest in long-term integration policies now, the resources which will be required to fix future problems will be considerably more.

The key findings of this report are based on qualitative research carried out in Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, the Netherlands and Sweden. In order to obtain
a general snapshot of the integration procedures of Europe, we conducted interviews and workshops with refugees, government officials and civil society actors. This offers considerable value-added as the majority of previous studies conducted on this topic are based on secondary sources. Our main time frame dates from 2015 until the present day, though some statistical data and integration policies pre-date 2015. For each country researched, we analysed existing policies and good practices, as well as bad practices or policies, which produce undesirable results.

In determining the key findings, we analysed policies and practices relating to: socio-cultural integration within the liberal-democratic framework; socio-economic integration in the education sector/labour market; and social inclusion within host communities. Based on these results, we found common practices and issues present across our research countries. "
Read the full report at
http://europeandemocracy.eu/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/2018-Refugees-In-Europe-Full-Version.pdf

Brexit

Can EU nationals still buy property in UK after #Brexit?

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With Britain now having officially left the European Union and the countdown for the UK and EU to hash out a trade deal having begun, millions of people on both sides of the Channel are uncertain about how their rights will change in the months ahead. Right now, the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK remain completely unchanged until at least 30 December, 2020.

However, after this point, the UK will be considered a 'third' country where EU law will not apply. If you're already living in the UK as an EU national, or are considering buying property in the UK in the future, it's worth knowing what the future legal landscape may look like. Here's what you need to know about EU nationals buying property in the UK after Brexit.

Source: Unsplash

Can I still buy property in the UK?

In a nutshell, anyone who is not a UK citizen can still buy property in the UK. As has been the case for decades, there are zero restrictions on foreign buyers wishing to enter the UK property market. A huge number of EU citizens already own property in the UK, and the number of EU citizens making inquiries about buying property has actually risen sharply since Brexit, in part due to a weaker pound making housing around 20% cheaper for those buying in euros.

The most common foreign nationalities that buy property in the UK are actually from outside of the EU, with buyers from the US, China, UAE, India, and Russia making up the bulk of foreign buyers. Non-UK buyers are subject to most of the same duties and restrictions are UK nationals. It is worth noting, however, that buyers who are not resident in the UK may face additional hurdles.

Can I get a UK mortgage?

Regardless of which country you are from, there are no legal hurdles or barriers to accessing a UK mortgage should you wish to buy a property. Non-UK buyers also have the same unrestricted access to tools to assist in finding the right mortgage, with free online mortgage advice services like Trussle helping buyers navigate the UK's mortgage market to find a deal with the most favourable and affordable rates. As a non-UK buyer, the mortgage process will be much the same as it is for a UK buyer, and you will be subject to payments such as Stamp Duty in much the same way that UK citizens are.

However, it is common for non-UK buyers with less than two years of residency in the UK to be subject to additional requirements. This often comes in the form of more stringent documentation, and will also often mean having to pay a substantially higher deposit. Of course, if you are a cash buyer or are looking to invest in UK property, then you will face no barriers.

Source: Pixabay

Will anything change in the future?

There is no sign that the current rules on overseas buyers will change as a result of Brexit. Buyers from every country in the world have always been welcome to purchase property in the UK, including EU citizens. There is very little chance that this will change in the foreseeable future, but watch this space to see what happens.

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MEPs demand Bulgaria’s and Romania’s swift accession to #Schengen area

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EU ministers should admit Bulgaria and Romania to the border check-free Schengen area as soon as possible, the Civil Liberties Committee has urged.

MEPs reiterated on Monday (5 November) their call on EU ministers to take a swift and affirmative decision on the accession of Bulgaria and Romania as fully-fledged members to the Schengen area.

They emphasize that a two-step approach - first ending checks at internal sea and air borders, followed by stopping checks at internal land borders - would pose a number of risks and could negatively impact the future enlargement of the Schengen area. The decision should therefore be taken in the form of a single legal act, say MEPs.

MEPs also call on EU Ministers to decide on Croatia’s Schengen accession as soon as Croatia has successfully met the required criteria.

Negative consequences of internal borders checks

Civil Liberties Committee MEPs underline that the Schengen area is a unique arrangement and one of the greatest achievements of the EU (COMP 6). The deferral of Bulgaria’s and Romania’s full accession has brought about negative consequences not just for the two countries, but also for the EU as a whole.

MEPs highlight that maintaining internal border controls or reintroducing them in the Schengen area undermines citizens’ trust in the European institutions and integration. It also has a negative economic impact on the EU’s internal market and exports and imports to and from Bulgaria and Romania, MEPs stress.

They also underline that the enlargement of the Schengen area or the free movement of EU citizens should not be negatively impacted by the shortcomings in other EU policies such as asylum and migration policy.

Rapporteur Sergei Stanishev (S&D, BG) said: “Today, the Civil Liberties Committee reaffirmed that Bulgaria and Romania should become fully-fledged Schengen members, and rejected the prospects for partial accession with air and maritime borders first, and then, eventually with land borders. This ‘two-step’ approach is a dangerous precedent that not only lacks any legally sound justification, but also entails a number of economic, social and political downsides for the EU.”

Next steps

The draft report was adopted by 36 votes to four and one abstention. The full house is expected to vote on this non-legislative report in December.

Background

Parliament gave its green light for Bulgaria and Romania to join the Schengen area in June 2011 and has reiterated its position several times following the legislative resolution.

Currently, Bulgaria and Romania apply the Schengen acquis partially and checks are carried out at the borders of the two countries. The final decision on whether the two countries can become part of the Schengen area has to be made through a unanimous vote in the Council by EU ministers.

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Demographics

MEPs urge member states to reach agreement on tackling #migration crises

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The time has come for EU leaders to take a decision on the burning issue of reforming the EU’s migration policy, say MEPs.

In a debate assessing the outcome of the last EU summit in March, in the presence of European Council President Donald Tusk and Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, MEPs stressed the need to put the EU’s migration package back on the agenda for upcoming summits, in order for EU leaders to reach a breakthrough and define a common position.

Among other measures, MEPs called for better protection of the EU’s external borders, introducing national quotas for receiving migrants and reiterated the idea of an EU Marshall Plan for Africa.

MEPs also highlighted the need to move on with reforming the eurozone, completing the EU’s Banking Union, incorporating the European Stability Mechanism in the community framework, working towards a fiscal capacity for the eurozone and introducing a mechanism to monitor corruption and the rule of law in EU countries. Some MEPs want the situation in Hungary and Poland to be put on the table at the European Council for a discussion by heads of state or government.

You can watch the debate in plenary here.

Click on names to watch videos of individual statements

Donald Tusk, for the Council

Jean-Claude Juncker, for the Commission

Manfred Weber (EPP, DE)

Maria João Rodrigues (S&D, PT)

Syed Kamall (ECR, UK)

Guy Verhofstadt (ADLE, BE)

Sven Giegold (Greens/EFA, DE)

Dimitrios Papadimoulis (GUE/NGL, EL)

Nigel Farage (EFDD, UK)

Harald Vilimsky (ENF, AT)

Jean-Claude Juncker closing

Donald Tusk closing

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