In a resolution passed on 13 December 2017, MEPs promised to protect all the rights of Britons in Europe – yet the Withdrawal Agreement agreed by the EU and UK does not refer to the rights of the estimated 1.5 million Britons currently resident in the EU to continue to work, live, travel, study and retire anywhere in the European Union.
Many Britons, it is feared, could even lose the right to return to the UK with their families, if their partner does not meet the income thresholds set out in the UK government’s White Paper.
The 3.5 million EU27 citizens in the UK are also calling for a green card to protect their status.
According to research conducted by the Residential Landlords Associations, there is growing evidence that EU27 citizens are less likely to be able to rent property now because of a perception that their future status is uncertain.
The green card is described as a ground-breaking proposal, currently under consideration by the European Parliament and which has been looked at by the UK Home Office.
Joan Pons LaPlana, a male nurse based in the UK, and Lynn Eade, a retired British journalist in Spain, have started a petition calling for the introduction of a green card which has already attracted over 56,000 signatures.
Speaking about the campaign, LaPlana said, “I feel worried about my long-term rights to stay in Britain. I don’t want to be a second-class citizen. The British government’s offer of settled status is a step in the right direction but it is not enough. That’s why I need an EU green card to protect my rights.”
“The scheme would guarantee the right of Britons resident in one EU Member State to be able to work, love, live, study, marry or retire in any other member state - in other words to freedom of movement” Roger Casale, CEO and founder of New Europeans
Eade has a disabled son and says she needs the security that she will be able to continue to access the support she needs in Spain.
“I don’t want to have to apply for Spanish citizenship which would mean giving up my British passport and rights if my stepson and I ever return to the UK,” she said.
The green card campaign is being led by the campaign group New Europeans and has received the backing of a substantial caucus of MEPs in the European Parliament.
An evidence session with the influential constitutional affairs committee is planned for early this year, possibly in February.
Polish MEP Danuta Hübner, chairman of the committee, announced at a hearing before Christmas that she had met with Roger Casale, CEO and founder of New Europeans and that “the Committee would need to find time to listen to the group and the green card for Europe proposal.”
Commenting on developments with the “green card for Europe” campaign, Casale told this website, “This is a time when we have maximum leverage on the European Parliament because they have committed themselves to finding a way to safeguard the free movement rights of Britons in Europe and understand the point about the need for a physical proof of identity for EU27 citizens in the UK.”
“They should not sign off the Withdrawal Agreement until the green card proposal or something very like it has also been approved.”
Casale, a former Labour MP, explained how a green card would help, saying it would provide a physical proof of 'settled status'.
“Settled status is a digital marker and the system cannot be accessed from an iPhone, for example. A green card should be issued to every EU27 citizen in the UK with settled status so that they can prove that they have the same rights to equal treatment as they had before.”
“A typical situation might involve an EU27 citizen applying for a job or trying to rent a property and being questioned by the employer or the letting agent about their immigration status. The introduction of the card would be accompanied by a publicly-funded awareness-raising campaign.”
It would, he said, also help Britons in the EU keep their right to free movement.
“The scheme would guarantee the right of Britons resident in one EU member state to be able to work, love, live, study, marry or retire in any other member state, in other words to freedom of movement.”
“To obtain a green card, British citizens would need a permanent residency card of an EU member state. The card will then give them the equivalent status and the same rights as an EU national of one member state who lives and/or works in another EU member state.”
“So, for example, a British software engineer who lives in Lyon would be able to take a job and move to Madrid without having to apply for a new residency status and permission to work in Spain,” Casale added.