Brexit: Campaigners warn of 'confusion' over UK's proposed 'settled status'
A campaign group says the current EU and UK positions on post-Brexit citizens’ rights are as “clear as mud.”
Photo credit: Michael Gill
Under latest proposals, it is planned that Europeans will maintain the right to move to Britain to live, study and work after withdrawal from the EU in March 2019 until the end of the transition, which the EU has said should last around 21 months.
Like those who arrive before Brexit, these EU citizens and their relatives will be able to apply for the right to stay indefinitely after five years of continuous residence, and stay for as long as they need to accrue this.
But Roger Casale, CEO of New Europeans, a group that campaigns for the rights of citizens affected by Brexit, says that despite attempts by both the EU and UK to reassure citizens on both sides of the channel, “much uncertainty” remains surrounding the issue.
Casale, a former Labour MP, told this website, “The Commission and Council say they have agreed but, they don't say what they have agreed.”
Casale says part of the “confusion” relates to the “settled status” scheme that has been proposed by the UK.
One problem, he says, “is how to verify someone’s status or how long they have been at a particular address if they don’t have National Insurance or tax records, for example.”
He adds, “A simple way round this would be for the person concerned to have registered their UK address with the European Commission. The system will record the date they register the address - a simple declaration.
“The burden of proof would be on the UK authorities to show that the person was not living there if they wanted to challenge this for any reason.”
He goes on, “The Commission can easily compile such a register if it is based on self-registration and voluntary - it's a system people will trust.
“If the UK wants its own register of EU citizens in the UK it is entitled under current free movement rules to start compiling one now.
“If Britain leaves the EU then they simply convert those people on the register to settled status as soon as the qualifying period of five years expires.”
Casale says, “The main thing the UK wants is to be able to throw people out, for example, if they have a committed criminal offence, and not have them come back to the UK under free movement rules.
“I think the way I am suggesting this works would allow for that.”
Meanwhile, New Europeans has launched a petition urging support for its proposal for the introduction of a “green card” for the estimated 3.5 million EU citizens in the UK and approximately 1.5m Britons who live and work in mainland Europe.
It has also launched a crowdfunding appeal to win support the initiative.
On this, Casale says, “I am confident that the Green Card proposal will be realised in some form. I know we have the support of the Brexit Steering Group and Michel Barnier has told me face-to-face that he is aware of the proposal.
“We have appealed to MEPs to get behind the Green Card proposal and to all other campaign groups to support the proposal.”
The petition states that a "Green Card for Europe, when used in conjunction with settled status or permanent residency of a participating state (in this case any EU member state and/or the UK), would have the effect of enabling all the rights previously enjoyed by transnational citizens by virtue of the fact that they were EU citizens resident in another EU member state.”
It says these rights include: freedom of movement within the EU; voting and standing in local and Euro elections; the right to petition the European Parliament and appeal to the European Parliamentary Ombudsman; and the right to consular assistance outside the EU.
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