The European Union on Monday 21 February criticized the UK’s management of EU citizens’ residence rights after Brexit. European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič warned London that the European Union “consider next steps”.
The UK introduced its Settlement Scheme (EUSs) for EU citizens living in the UK in 2018 and has since processed over 5.5 million applications, significantly more than originally expected.
However, while around 57% of applicants have obtained permanent resident status in the UK, 41% have obtained previous resident status, which grants only five years of residency.
The UK government’s position is that citizens who do not apply for permanent residency status before their previous residency status expires automatically lose their residency rights, which also gives them access to social benefits.
In December, the Authority for Monitoring Agreements on the Rights of Independent Citizens (IMA) began a judicial review process against the Ministry of the Interior, which it accuses of acting illegally.
“I regret the UK’s stance on these two issues and will consider next steps”said Mr. Šefčovič after a meeting of the Joint Committee on the implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement that allowed the UK to leave the EU.
“We are talking about millions of people, their livelihoods, their families, their individual destinies and I think it was a commitment from the two of us that we will do everything we can for British citizens in the ‘EU and EU citizens staying in the UK’he added.
It is also unclear whether the rights of EU citizens with new residency status are guaranteed by the Withdrawal Agreement or the UK immigration law.
The Joint Committee also focused on the status of negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol, which Mr Šefčovič described as “neither advanced nor progressing”.
EU and UK officials say some progress has been made to reduce the burden of customs formalities for businesses in Northern Ireland.
The EU believes that it will be possible to reduce the data fields in customs declarations from 80 to 30, and Mr Šefčovič mentioned that the Commission’s proposals “they offer remarkable simplification and great permanent impact on the ground”.
The UK believes the reduction should be greater, with traders only needing to use customs codes that describe goods in high-level terms.
In a joint statement, Šefčovič and UK Foreign Secretary Liz Truss said there was “an ongoing determination on both sides to ensure that outstanding issues in the context of the protocol are addressed and lasting solutions are found in the interests of citizens, businesses and stability in Northern Ireland. »
Northern Ireland is currently without a prime minister after Paul Givan of the Democratic Unionist Party resigned last month in protest over the protocol’s status. Northern Ireland will begin campaigning in mid-March ahead of the Northern Ireland Assembly elections in May.