The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal: the rights of UK and EU citizens

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Te Immigration Minister told us that the EU has declined to consider a reciprocal agreement for the continuation of voting rights as part of the Withdrawal Agreement negotiations. Tis is highly regrettable. Unless the negotiations change this position, the UK will have to secure bilateral agreements with each Member State. We look forward to hearing how the UK intends to take this forward and call on Member States to respond positively. We trust that the UK Government and devolved administrations will continue to enable EU citizens living in the UK to stand and vote in local elections and in elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. Te rules on dual citizenship differ between Member States, and it is not practicable in all circumstances for British citizens in the EU to apply for dual citizenship in their host state—for example Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Slovakia do not allow dual nationality. In the absence of an agreement enabling them to continue to beneft from free movement, some may have to choose to renounce their British citizenship and apply to become a citizen of their host country to enable them to continue to live their lives as now. Tis would be unacceptable and we urge Member States, and the European Parliament, to look at this issue so that UK citizens can maintain their rights without having to renounce their citizenship in theTe Minister told us that the Home Ofce has started to roll out online checking of digital status for right-to-work checks. We recognise that, in future, other groups of non-UK passport holders will be using similar digital processes as a matter of course to demonstrate their immigration status. However, we are concerned that this is a task of unprecedented scale for the Home Ofce and it is being done within a very tight time frame. Te experience of the Windrush generation shows that, where errors occur, it can lead to devastating consequences for individuals and their families. We are also concerned about the potential for fraud and the incentive for individuals to be exploited if they cannot persuade an employer or landlord of their status. Te Home Ofce has said the digital code system will be less resource intensive, reduce fraud and be simple to use. We are concerned that the Home Ofce is introducing a new system on a large scale, and which relies upon employers, or landlords, understanding and embracing a new way of working. Tis might work well for many, but for some the risk of a civil penalty for employing or renting to someone without the correct immigration status, and a lack of understanding of the new system, may deter them from employing or renting to EU citizens, or create difculties in enabling their status in other circumstances to be confrmed. We cal on the Government to issue a physical document to EU citizens. The Withdrawal Agreement is not fnalised. While we welcome the positive statements from the Ministers that they would honour their commitments to the EU in the UK in the event of no deal, more could be done to provide reassurances as to how this would be put into legal effect. Te Withdrawal Agreement contains protections for EU citizens in the UK and for UK citizens in the EU. However, in the event of No Deal, there would be uncertainty around establishing the right to reside and work and the right to return afer a period of absence. Tere are also protections built into the Withdrawal Agreement which would be lost, such as the right to refer cases to the CJEU for eight years. We welcome the Home Secretary’s clear commitment that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK will be able to stay in the event of No Deal, and call on Member States to make similar public commitments to assure all UK citizens living in their territory that their rights will also be safeguarded in such circumstances. We note that the European Parliament has pursued this issue and we trust that they will continue to do so.
Keywords: 
Brexit
Country of publication: 
United Kingdom
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Publication date: 
Wednesday, July 18, 2018
Title Original Language: 
The progress of the UK’s negotiations on EU withdrawal: the rights of UK and EU citizens
Abstract Original Language: 
Te Immigration Minister told us that the EU has declined to consider a reciprocal agreement for the continuation of voting rights as part of the Withdrawal
Agreement negotiations. Tis is highly regrettable. Unless the negotiations change this position, the UK will have to secure bilateral agreements with each Member State. We look forward to hearing how the UK intends to take this forward and call on Member States to respond positively. We trust that the UK Government and devolved administrations will continue to enable EU citizens living in the UK to stand and vote in local elections and in elections to the Scottish Parliament, Welsh and Northern Ireland Assemblies. Te rules on dual citizenship differ between Member States, and it is not practicable in all circumstances for British citizens in the EU to apply for dual citizenship in their host state—for example Austria, Estonia, Lithuania, Netherlands and Slovakia do not allow dual nationality. In the absence of an agreement enabling them to continue to beneft from free movement, some may have to choose to renounce their British citizenship and apply to become a citizen of their host country to enable them to continue to live their lives as now. Tis would be unacceptable and we urge Member States, and the European Parliament, to look at this issue so that UK citizens can maintain their rights without having to renounce their citizenship in theTe Minister told us that the Home Ofce has started to roll out online checking of digital status for right-to-work checks. We recognise that, in future, other groups of non-UK passport holders will be using similar digital processes as a matter of course to demonstrate their immigration status. However, we are concerned that this is a task of unprecedented scale for the Home Ofce and it is being done within a very tight time frame. Te experience of the Windrush generation shows that, where errors occur, it can lead to devastating consequences for individuals and their families. We are also concerned about the potential for fraud and the incentive for individuals to be exploited if they cannot persuade an employer or landlord of their status. Te Home Ofce has said the digital code system will be less resource intensive, reduce fraud and be simple to use. We are concerned that the Home Ofce is introducing a new system on a large scale, and which relies upon employers, or
landlords, understanding and embracing a new way of working. Tis might work well for many, but for some the risk of a civil penalty for employing or renting to someone without the correct immigration status, and a lack of understanding of the new system, may deter them from employing or renting to EU citizens, or create difculties in enabling their status in other circumstances to be confrmed. We cal on the Government to issue a physical document to EU citizens. The Withdrawal Agreement is not fnalised. While we welcome the positive statements from the Ministers that they would honour their commitments to the EU in the UK in the event of no deal, more could be done to provide reassurances as to how this would be put into legal effect. Te Withdrawal Agreement contains protections for EU citizens in the UK and for UK citizens in the EU. However, in the event of No Deal, there would be uncertainty around establishing the right to reside and work and the right to return afer a period of absence. Tere are also protections built into the Withdrawal Agreement which would be lost, such as the right to refer cases to the CJEU for eight years. We welcome the Home Secretary’s clear commitment that EU citizens living lawfully in the UK will be able to stay in the event of No Deal, and call on Member States to make similar public commitments to assure all UK citizens living in their territory that their rights will also be safeguarded in such circumstances. We note that the European Parliament has pursued this issue and we trust that they will continue to do so.
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