Under proposals outlined on Wednesday, EU citizens will also be given a statutory right of appeal, in line with their current rights through the free movement directive, if their application for ‘settled status’ is unsuccessful.
The newly published document also cautions that applicants will be asked to declare any criminal convictions and be checked against UK security databases.
The move is partly designed to allay ongoing fears about citizens’ rights when the UK leaves the EU in 2019 and comes as EU27 ambassadors meet in Brussels on Wednesday to begin internal preparatory work on the second phase of Brexit negotiations, which will address the future UK-EU relationship.
The Brussels meeting will focus on the scope and length of transitional arrangements, as well as whether the EU’s four freedoms will be applied during an interim period. EU ambassadors will also discuss the future bilateral relationship, in particular whether to aim for one comprehensive agreement or separate treaties in areas such as trade, defence and security.
In the technical document sent to the European Commission as part of negotiations, UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s government reiterates how the new system will be “streamlined, low-cost and user-friendly”, with EU citizens consulted on its design.
The document also says applicants will be asked to declare any criminal convictions and be checked against UK security databases.
May has previously stated that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals in Europe is the first priority for negotiations and she said last month that an agreement is within touching distance.
The UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis said, “We have been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens is our top priority in negotiations. They make a huge contribution to our economy and society and we do not want to see that change as a result of our decision to leave the EU.
“We will support everyone wishing to stay to gain settled status through a new straightforward, streamlined system.
“The last negotiation round saw real progress in this area and I hope the document we have published today can facilitate the deal we need to guarantee the rights of UK citizens living in the EU27, and vice versa.”
UK interior minister Amber Rudd said, “We have been clear that EU citizens living in the UK make an enormous contribution to our country and we want them to stay.
“Applying for settled status will be a streamlined, low-cost, digital process and EU citizens are being consulted on its design to ensure it is user-friendly. We know that there is some anxiety among EU citizens about how the process of applying for settled status will work so I hope this document provides some further reassurance.”
Meanwhile, a new poll conducted by ORB International and published on Wednesday shows that UK public confidence in the Brexit negotiations and Theresa May’s handling of them has reached an all-time low. Asked whether they approved of the way the government is handling the negotiations, only 34 per cent said that they did, while 66 per cent said they disapproved.
The poll also showed that for the first time more people think that Britain will be worse off as a result of the Brexit vote. The Prime Minister’s approval rating stands at 26 per cent, down from 34 per cent following the snap election and 44 per cent at the beginning of June.