British MEP backs call for European ‘Green Card’

Written by Martin Banks on 23 August 2019 in News
News

Campaigners are appealing to European parliament president David Sassoli to consider the initiative which could protect citizen’s rights amid Brexit chaos

Photo credit: European Parliament Audiovisual


Senior British MEP Claude Moraes is backing renewed demands for a “green card” to help safeguard citizens’ rights in the event of a hard Brexit on October 31.

The Socialist deputy has joined campaigners in making a direct appeal to the European Parliament’s new president, David Sassoli, to press the EU and UK to introduce the scheme.

It is claimed that a green card scheme would allow the UK and EU border authorities to fast track EU citizens with settled status and Britons with the right to reside in the EU.

The aim is to ‘ring-fence’ the rights and status of Britons abroad and EU citizens in the UK, post-Brexit.


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The move follows the surprise announcement at the weekend by the UK government that free movement will end abruptly on 31 October rather than being phased out gradually as previously planned.

Moraes told this us, “The EU Green Card proposal offers a practical solution and I support it.”

It is feared that EU citizens in the UK will face many practical challenges post Brexit and campaigners say are these are unlikely to be resolved by the introduction of the settled status scheme. Although the scheme guarantees residency and many of the rights they enjoyed pre-Brexit as EU citizens resident in another EU member state.

One issue highlighted by rights groups relates to the fact that the new status can only be accessed online and via an Android phone.

Roger Casale, of the New Europeans citizens’ rights group, told us, “Given the lack of public awareness about the details of the new immigration rules, it is likely that EU citizens will could be disadvantaged when applying for employment or to rent a property due to a misplaced perception that their residency status in the UK is still uncertain.”

He says the estimated 1.5 million Britons who live and work in mainland Europe could face similar challenges. “Without a ‘Green Card for Europe’ they will also lose the right to free movement within the territory of the EU,” he cautions.

“Without a ‘Green Card for Europe’ Britons will also lose the right to free movement within the territory of the EU” Roger Casale, of the New Europeans citizens’ rights group

Casale warns these problems will be “particularly acute” at ports and airports where long delays are feared for all passengers after 31 October.

It is not clear, he notes, how border officials will be able to work out which EU citizens are still entitled to enter the UK freely because they have settled, or pre-settled status and which ones should be subjected to additional checks. Britons will face similar delays when travelling to the EU, says Casale.

New Europeans, in a move backed by Moraes, have written to Sassoli, asking him to support the green card idea. The group have also already given evidence to the AFOC and LIBE Committees.

Moraes, who was re-elected in May’s European elections, said, “The decision to end freedom of movement on 31 October rather than gradually phasing it out is a reversal of previous government policy and will cause chaos and injustice.”

“Without a document showing proof of status there will be no quick and easy way to distinguish between EU citizens returning to their homes in the UK and those visiting or intending to move to Britain for the first time. The same will be true of Britons travelling to continental Europe.”

The MEP added, “The EU Green Card proposal offers a practical solution and I support it. When I was chair of the Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs Committee we took evidence from Roger Casale about the proposal and the Constitutional Affairs Committee later did the same.”

“I am pleased to endorse New Europeans direct approach to David Sassoli - we are in a very serious situation now with regard to the position of EU citizens and Britons abroad in a no deal Brexit scenario, despite the roll-out of settled status in the UK.”

“Without a document showing proof of status there will be no quick and easy way to distinguish between EU citizens returning to their homes in the UK and those visiting or intending to move to Britain for the first time” Claude Moraes, British MEP

“Urgent additional measures such as the green card should be introduced forthwith and if the European Parliament calls on the European Commission to draft a legislative proposal to introduce an EU Green Card for the five million affected citizens it will have my full support.”

Rafal Skarbek, a UK-based member of New Europeans, also backs the initiative, saying, “The 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.”

“This is so important because many of us still face instances of discrimination when looking for employment or somewhere to live simply on the grounds that our status is perceived to be uncertain.”

The green card proposal, first mooted by Casale, won both the Financial Times Future of Britain Award in 2017 and the Schwarzkopf Europe Award this year.

Further comment came from Casale, a former Labour MP, who said, “We do hope that President Sassoli will respond positively and act quickly to expedite the green card proposal through the European Parliament.”

“There is no time to lose if we are to fully protect the rights and status of the5million before Brexit day.”

In his letter to Sassoli, he writes, “Even if the UK leaves the EU on the basis of the Withdrawal Agreement, 3.4 million EU27 citizens in the UK face discrimination on a daily basis. This is because without an EU green card they will not have a physical proof of status”.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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