- Brexit committee of MPs calls on the government to provide more information on the “settled status” scheme for EU citizens living in the UK.
- A deal on citizens rights is “far from” done, MPs of the Exiting the European Union Committee warned.
- EU citizens in the UK, and UK citizens in the EU are “likely to lose some of the rights they had previously” after Brexit, the MPs said.
- The committee called on the government to make the applications free, rather than the £65 currently planned.
LONDON – EU citizens living in the UK are “far from” having their rights secured after Brexit, an influential group of MPs has warned.
The Exiting the European Union Committee said the rights of EU citizens living in the UK – and of UK citizens living elsewhere in the EU – are still a long way from being finalised and said “substantial issues” remain before their basic rights are guaranteed.
The British government has said it wants EU citizens to stay in the UK and their right to remain will be guaranteed through a “settled status scheme.”
However, the Brexit committee warned that the digital application process proposed by the Home Office risks “creating barriers for applicants and confusion among those required to make the checks,” including landlords and employers.
It said the timetable for the roll-out of the settled status scheme – which needs to process around three million applications – was “challenging.”
These are people who have made their lives in the EU in good faith or came to live and work in the UK
The committee also said the application scheme should be free for EU citizens provided the agreement was reciprocated for UK citizens living elsewhere in Europe. Currently, the Home Office plans to charge £65 for an adult and £32.50 for children.
Far from being finalised
Hillary Benn, the chair of the committee, said negotiations were “far from being finalised.”
“Citizens’ rights was one area of the Brexit negotiations marked as green in the March draft of the Withdrawal Agreement which implied that it was all sorted,” he said in a statement. “But the evidence we have heard suggests it is far from being finalised.”
He added: “In evidence to our inquiry, we heard the hopes and fears of UK citizens in the EU as well as of EU citizens resident here in the UK.
“These are people who have made their lives in the EU in good faith or came to live and work in the UK, paying taxes, raising families and putting down roots.
“The rights of UK citizens living in the EU27 and of EU nationals in the UK should be based on full reciprocity, but as things stand, both groups are likely to lose some of the rights they had previously.
“That’s not fair and it’s why we want to see further progress quickly.”