lunes, 26 de junio de 2017


The UK government has waited a year to offer EU nationals living in the UK a deal which effectively demotes their status from that of 'EU citizens' to that of 'settled immigrants'. At the same time it ignores the detailed EU Commission proposals for the virtually full maintenance of existing EU citizenship rights. As Donald Tusk has pointed out, the British proposals 'may damage the EU's efforts to protect UK citizens in the EU'. In other words, as any deal must be reciprocal, the UK government seems to be actively seeking the reduction of rights for its own citizens who currently live in the European Union.

The government's central offer is that EU citizens resident in Britain before a cut-off date (to be negotiated) will be able to apply for 'settled status', so they will not have to leave the country or apply for work permits. There will be a two-year transitional period of grace after Brexit to enable this to happen. However, even though EU nationals have already gone through the costly and arduous process to get 'Permanent Residence', they will have to repeat this all over again with a new application procedure, which the government promises will not to be as complex and rigorous. 

'Settled status' is not the same as citizenship. If May's proposal were to be applied to both those EU and UK nationals affected (and any agreement must be reciprocal), it would mean the loss of many rights and benefits. In terms of the latter, the government talks about 'seeking to protect' existing arrangements on benefits and healthcare coverage, but with no information as to how. Their only positive move is their promise to automatically uprate UK pensions in the EU and to allow the export of benefits from the UK to the EU, which might allow the continuation of aggregated pensions.

What would this mean for the rights of UK nationals in the EU? Firstly, we would lose the right to bring sick and elderly relations to live with us, or to take non-UK family members back to the UK. Secondly, after 2019 we would lose the right to 'home fees' and 'student support' that Britons resident in the EU are entitled to. Thirdly, if we are out of our country of residence for more than two years, we would automatically lose all our residency rights. Amongst other things this would endanger our ability to go and live in another EU country. There are some important citizenship rights that we would definitely lose such as the right to non-discrimination versus nationals and all of our political rights. The UK government 'seeks to protect' but does not guarantee other rights such as that to be self-employed or set up a business. After 2019 it also appears that the existing mutual recognition of qualifications will no longer continue. 

Finally, the UK government rejects any role of the European Court of Justice in implementing an agreement. This issue will certainly complicate the negotiations on citizens' rights, which the UK government does not propose to separate or 'ring-fence' from other negotiations on trade. Any breakdown in negotiations would thus mean a cliff-edge for citizens.

In conclusion, this is a mean-spirited offer, the minimum which the UK government could have offered and well below what the EU Commission has already proposed. 

Comments on the offer:

Corybn:“This isn’t a generous offer. This is confirmation the government is prepared to use people as bargaining chips."

​​Brake (LibDems): “Theresa May should be utterly ashamed this is the best they can come up with, a year on. It offers little in the way of reassurance to EU citizens who have made Britain their home and continues to use them as bargaining chips. These people play by the rules, pay taxes and make Britain what it is. Theresa May is treating these people like dirt and we should unilaterally guarantee these people’s right to stay."See quotes and other comments in Guardian article 

Another article quotes the 3Million on this: "
Hatton said the offer fell far short of the proposal placed on the table by the EU a fortnight ago to protect the rights of Britons in the EU.

“We are bitterly disappointed. It does not feel like a finished document. It does not feel like the EU document, which is definitive and authoritative,” said Hatton.