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Tue, 14 July 2020

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Sajid Javid in fresh row with Brussels over post-Brexit rights for expats

Sajid Javid in fresh row with Brussels over post-Brexit rights for expats
3 min read

The Home Secretary has called on European Union countries to provide much more detail on the fate of British expats living abroad after Brexit.

Sajid Javid - who will later set out more detail of the UK's plans for EU citizens - said other member states needed to act to reassure Brits that their rights would be protected after Britain leaves the bloc.

Mr Javid said: "Publishing details of how we will administer our settled status scheme shows we are honouring the commitments made towards EU citizens living in the UK.

"But I am concerned that I have not seen any similar plans on how EU member states are going to support British nationals in their countries.

"This is not good enough and I hope both the European parliament and commission will exert more pressure for them to do this as soon as possible."

Ministers have so far pledged that EU citizens who have been in the UK for five years by the end of the Brexit transition period in December 2020 will be able to apply for "settled status", allowing them to continue to live and work in Britain.

The Home Secretary will today set out a "statement of intent" and draft immigration rules in a bid to reassure EU citizens in the UK that their rights will be protected.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, has said he is "far from happy" with preparations by EU member states to accommodate UK citizens.

But the Brexit chief also raised questions about the UK's own preparations, urging ministers to shed light on how a promised new independent watchdog to safeguard EU citizens' rights would work in practice.

He warned: "The European Parliament still has a number of very serious concerns over the UK Government's registration process, including the need to better cater for vulnerable groups and the high cost of the settled status process for EU citizens who exercised their legal right and moved to the UK to work before Article 50 was even triggered.

“Why should EU citizens be financially punished for the Brexit referendum outcome, when we don’t even know yet what the future EU-UK mobility agreement will look like?"

Today's Home Office publication is expected to spell out how the new British scheme will operate, who will be eligible for it and how much it will cost.

Ministers have promised that a new online registration scheme for EU citizens will bring the process into line with that used to apply for other key documents like a driving license or passport.

But Jane Golding, chair of the British in Europe expat group, told the Independent that Mr Javid's fresh criticism of member states was "a bit late and a bit rich".

"What the Home Secretary appears not to realise is that it is the UK government that has thrown its own nationals in Europe into this uncertainty by insisting on introducing settled status for EU citizens in the UK so that it became an option for us in the EU 27 in December’s last-minute deal," she said.

"The EU 27 was not interested in settled status up until then."

There are currently some 3.8 million EU citizens living in the UK, according to the Office for National Statistics, with around 900,000 British citizens living in EU countries.