Brexit & Schengen. The costs of being already outside Europe.

If you are a European (Union) citizen and for some reasons you have to become mother/father abroad, but still in Europe, you have good chance to manage all as if you were in your own Country. This is true for the welfare state (hospital and medical issues), but even to travel. In our case, we have very few things to complain about the British NHS. Something quite weird we have to say about travelling. Now we got Rosa, an Italian citizen like us but born in London, UK. As she is Italian, she is a European Union citizen in a (so far!) European Union Country (UK). Why can’t we travel to Italy and come back? Because UK (and Republic of Ireland) are the only two Countries belonging to European Union that don’t share the Schengen treaty. It is quite strange if one consider for a while that proudly not European Union Countries like Switzerland, Norway and Iceland (Liechtenstein as well) are however in Schengen.

What we have to do to enjoy my wife’s maternity leave in Italy and let relatives meet Rosa is to issue a passport. Rosa, in fact, is waiting for a special passport whose validity will last three years. This procedure implied the following costs:

  • £89: Cost of passport
  • £11: costs to pay the postal way to pay the 89£ (a mighty taxation over taxation)
  • 2 stamps (£7,25 to ship documents to Italian Consulate + £14,50 to make the passport come back to us as a special mail)
  • £30 (+ other 2 stamps, £1 each) to legalize the birth certificate (sic!)*
  • £4: a Birth certificate from Camden
  • £12,90: pictures for the baby

Gran total:

  • £171,40 (220€ approximately)

I’m happy Rosa is having her first passport so soon, and I hope we will be able one day to visit Cuba, the Republic of Togo, and many other places. Nevertheless, the most annoying fact is that all this has been a big loss of time and a variable in booking flights to travel. For instance: do you know how much time and patience you must have to have a suitable picture for passports for a just-born baby? A lot!

Another consideration is the following: if the “Brexit” is commanded by such urgent anti-immigration issues and should be sustained by hard-but-rational reasons, why do people want to leave the European Union if you are already out in the most important of the immigration related framework? To oblige Italian and other people to use a passport instead of a national ID card in airport frontiers is so important to the UK public opinion? A vignette can be told about this. In 2013 I landed in Bristol and I presented my Italian National Identity Card. The Officer at the frontier just told me: “I don’t like your document!” As I explained that she shouldn’t express any dislike and that I had the right to enter England with that document, she replied slightly better that “a passport is quicker to be processed”. Quite an impolite for an Officer, a British one.

Coming back to 2016, explanations from neighbors walking in the streets of Hampstead Heath with the “Leave!” pin are welcome. Who is exactly going to leave? And where? To achieve what, exactly and ultimately?

brexituk-election

* The “legalization” of an already legal document, whose actual consistency is made up of a row little hard-cut rectangular piece of A4 glued on the rear of the Birth Certificate, is the utmost of meaninglessness: Italian Bureaucracy wants Italian citizens to have a document, that itself would be already legal, obliging to pay money to another State. It does not seem to me smart at all.

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