Rafal Skarbek, who was born in Poland and has lived in the UK since coming as a child in 1982, is heading down through France on his way to northern Spain where he will cycle along the famous Camino pilgrimage route, which he sees as symbolic of the right to move freely around the continent.
He said he is cycling for the five million EU citizens living abroad in the UK and UK citizens abroad in the EU, who are affected by Brexit.
“The award-winning New Europeans Green Card for Europe proposal can help EU citizens in the UK and Britons abroad post Brexit because it will give us a physical proof of our status,” he said.
“This is so important because many of us still face instances of casual discrimination when looking for employment or somewhere to live simply on the grounds that our status is perceived to be uncertain.”
The idea of the card proposal, which has gained support from MEPs, is that those who have obtained residency rights in the UK or EU before Brexit would be able to apply for a credit-card sized card maintaining the same rights as they enjoyed before Brexit in terms of free movement around the EU.
It would mean Britons living abroad in the EU could continue to be treated as EU citizens for most matters in daily life after Brexit.
For EU citizens abroad in the UK it would demonstrate their ‘settled status’ (right to stay in the UK, based on the rights protected in the negotiated Brexit deal), as the UK is not planning otherwise to issue any physical document they can use to show this for formalities.
Mr Skarbak arrived in Calais on Wednesday having cycled from Somerset to Dover and his route is taking him via Paris, Bordeaux and Bilbao, aiming to reach Santiago by the end of July. He hopes to meet some of the British community in France and Spain along his way to find out how Brexit is affecting their lives.
There is a fundraising page at this link where people may donate towards the green card scheme. Any money will be used by New Europeans to fund its work lobbying MEPs and national parliaments to build support for the proposal.
New Europeans founder Roger Casale said: “Rafal’s journey will draw attention to the EU Green Card for Europe campaign and I hope it will hasten the day when we see it introduced.”