Brussels is demanding clarification from London after tens of hundreds of EU residents dwelling within the UK have been abruptly denied the correct to stay, leaving them doubtlessly liable to repay welfare advantages.
Brexit commissioner Maroš Šefčovič informed ministers from the bloc’s 27 member states that he was taking over their case at a gathering on Monday, diplomats informed the Financial Times, after a number of raised the problem.
The controversy comes at a delicate time as the 2 sides close to a deal to resolve a long-running dispute over their post-Brexit buying and selling relationship.
They intention to amend the applying of the Northern Ireland protocol, which governs commerce throughout the Irish Sea, inside weeks. The UK needs to cut back checks on site visitors between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which remained within the EU single marketplace for items after the remainder of Britain left the bloc in 2020.
About 141,000 EU residents instantly had their on-line functions up to date to a rejection final month by the UK’s Home Office, despite the fact that the refusals in some instances have been dated again to June 2021. Those rejected may must return advantages paid over that interval.
The Europe ministers of Poland, Romania, Belgium and Ireland raised the scenario with Šefčovič, a number of diplomats current on the assembly informed the FT.
“Welfare payments will now cease and some may have to pay back money. The risk of these people plunging into poverty is high,” mentioned an EU diplomat. “It will be a total surprise to them that they no longer have the right to live in the UK.
“The commission said it is trying to obtain clarification from the British and is carrying out a legal analysis of the situation,” they added.
The Brexit deal ended free motion for EU residents however allowed those that have lived within the UK for not less than 5 years earlier than Britain left the bloc to stay supplied they apply for settled standing.
The UK has up to now granted greater than 5.5mn EU residents the correct to stay.
A senior EU diplomat warned that London must be conscious that “acting heavy-handedly” over the remedy of the bloc’s residents may bitter member states in the direction of future UK authorities requests for co-operation agreements on returning unlawful migrants.
“Protection of EU citizens’ rights is a priority for us,” added one other diplomat.
The UK watchdog overseeing the implementation of EU residents’ rights within the UK first highlighted the problem on January 27, after the Home Office informed it that the net accounts of candidates who have been refused standing between June 2021 and April 2022 had been up to date.
Until then these making use of had a Certificate of Application granting them residency. “Potentially 141,000 people continued to enjoy rights to which they were not entitled, including receiving benefit payments,” the Independent Monitoring Agency mentioned.
“We are seeking assurance that the [EU settlement scheme] digital system is fit for purpose, maintained and audited to reflect accurate digital statuses, and accurately available on demand for all eligible citizens.”
The Home Office mentioned: “The online digital status for some EU Settlement Scheme applicants who were refused status has been updated in line with the decision taken on their application, which had already been communicated to the individuals concerned.
“We are working across government and with the EU and member states to understand any further implications and to ensure the situation is managed quickly and pragmatically.”
The European Commission mentioned on Tuesday evening: “The EU is aware of this issue. It potentially affects a large number of EU citizens, therefore being a matter of concern.
“We are engaging with the British authorities at several levels to seek clarity and to ensure the protection of the rights and the wellbeing of EU citizens in the UK.”