I was in Brussels on Tuesday and, whilst going through correspondence, came across the term ‘Accidental American’. An English wife of such an individual had written to me explaining the problem. Her husband was born in America to non-American parents who had a short-term visa to work in the country. He left as a toddler with his family to live in France and thought no more about it. As an adult, he opened a bank account in France. The American authorities now regard him as an American citizen who is hiding his wealth in off-shore bank accounts, to avoid paying tax. By their logic, he is committing an offence. The long reaching tentacles of the American authorities and financial institutions can make life very difficult for him indeed. If he tries to acquire credit cards, open other bank accounts or borrow money, he finds his path blocked.
This individual appears to have become the spokesman for other Accidental Americans and wants the EU to discuss the problem with the USA. Apparently, the EU does not (yet) have the ‘Competence’ or power to do this. The alternative is for all 28 countries to negotiate bilaterally with the USA to reach an agreement for Europe. 28 EU countries joining together in the absence of the Commission to negotiate a deal with the US is unprecedented. At least post-Brexit the UK can agree to a quick deal with the USA for Accidental Americans here. It would seem that AAs elsewhere in Europe will have to wait for a Treaty change to give the EU even more power. The obvious solution would appear to be for an individual to renounce their US citizenship to avoid these problems. However, I am informed that this can cost between 20,000 and 60,000 US Dollars.
The real irony of this story is that there are thousands of people all over the world who are desperate to achieve American citizenship. I can’t help but speculate on the (illegal) opportunities that might arise from this!
I returned to the UK on Wednesday to be ready for an early start to Bradford the next day, where I had agreed to help our Group Staff member, Jamie Illingworth, with his local election campaign. Some Eastern members may say that Agnew should be doing this in Great Yarmouth instead. Well, the answer to that is that the Great Yarmouth leaflets were still unavailable. I will be busy there once these are to hand.
On Friday I visited my researchers at their homes. There is no doubt that my general researcher, Jeff Parkes, is starting to ruffle the feathers of officialdom with his ability to access obscure Government websites and dig for information on my behalf. Every few months his computer goes seriously on the blink, fighting for its life to repel viruses. He even had a phone call one evening on his ex-directory landline from a man who would only give his first name and a shady instruction for a number to ring for information on a very specific topic. Initially, Jeff thought his problems were due to inadequate Broadband or weak signal, but his wife’s computer was unaffected. Last week the viruses overwhelmed even the enhanced defences of Jeff’s computer (and it put up one hell of a fight) deleting new passwords the instant he tried to change them. His email address has now become toxic. The situation reminds me of the HG Wells novel, ‘The Machine Stops’. A new email address has been acquired, but I don’t think it will be long before, metaphorically speaking, sparks start to fly and fuse boards start to melt again.