A few clues for EU nationals post-Brexit

THERE'S more clarity on what will happen to our EU national colleagues living in the UK after Brexit - and to our many members who are UK nationals working in the EU - after the end of the transitional arrangements that will follow Brexit.


Pro-EU demonstrators at a March 2017 march in London.

There's detail in December's Joint Report from the Negotiators of the European Union and the United Kingdom Government and there's much more, with links, at www.londonfreelance.org/fl/1801brex.html - and there have since been "clarifications" by UK ministers.

EU nationals "legally resident" in the UK by the "specified date" of 29 March 2019, and UK nationals living in other EU countries on that date, will, ministers currently say, automatically meet the criteria for permanent residence in those countries.

While it's not stated in the document, EU nationals need to have been "legally resident" in the UK since 29 March 2014. They will have two years from 29 March 2019 to complete their application for a "residency document" and permanent residence, which they keep as long as they don't leave the country for more than five years. Family members (broadly defined) can join them.

Applications procedures for EU nationals registering for permanent residence will include "short, simple, user- friendly" online application forms, will cost no more than £75 and will, it is claimed, take two weeks.

Citizens of other EU member sates will have the same rights to benefits and healthcare and pensions entitlement that they enjoy now. Current EU Directives guaranteeing equal treatment of the "self-employed" and "economically inactive" will still apply.

A subsequent open letter from Prime Minister Theresa May to "our" EU citizens assured them: "I want you to stay," adding that "right now, you do not have to do anything at all." We're waiting to see whether lawyers would agree.

There's a promise that "domestic legislation will be enacted" to give EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU the same rights they have now. But the UK Parliament can later repeal the promised legislation, with "national laws" replacing EU directives in the UK from 2027 onwards. This raises the prospect of new uncertainty for EU nationals in the UK and vice versa from that year.

The Joint Report prohibits "discrimination on grounds of nationality" for EU or UK nationals. Cases in the British courts involving EU citizens' rights will until March 2027 "be interpreted in line with the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union".

This deal doesn't offer much to UK nationals in the EU and is more vague about their fate. Also missing is a credible assurance that the proposed deal on citizens' rights still stands if the UK crashes out of the EU with "no deal". The European Parliament still threatens to veto the final EU-UK withdrawal deal over citizen's rights.

Subsequent noises have not been encouraging. Speaking to journalists during her visit to China, Prime Minister Theresa May said that EU nationals arriving during the two-year post-March 2019 transitional period will be "registered" at the border, an issue over which a clash with EU negotiators is expected. Figures released in January showed a sharp rise in EU nationals in UK immigration detention.

Der Spiegel in December documented recent cases of discrimination and harassment against EU nationals in the UK. These include a professional driver having the validity of his German driving licence questioned, loans and tenancies refused and unlawful requests to check passports. France 24 TV reported on a French sculptor advised by a Post Office clerk checking her PR application to "give up" as she was "without regular, full-time paid employment." Watch this space.