Written by Sam Tobin
LONDON (Reuters) – The British government is violating its withdrawal agreement with the European Union by requiring EU citizens to re-apply for the right to live and work in the United Kingdom, a court said on Tuesday. Monitor citizens’ rights.
The Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA) said the Home Office’s post-Brexit settlement plan illegally requires up to 2.6 million EU citizens to apply for a second time after being allowed to stay in the UK or lose their residence rights.
EU citizens and their family members who have not established a right of permanent residence before the end of 2020 can obtain limited permission to enter and stay in the UK for five years, known as ‘pre-settlement status’.
IMA representative Robert Palmer told the High Court in London that those who do not reapply within five years of being granted pre-settlement status “will automatically lose their right to reside in the UK, becoming illegal immigrants. Who can be arrested and expelled”.
He said this aspect of the EU’s settlement plan – and a similar plan for nationals of EEA and EFTA countries – is “directly inconsistent with the Withdrawal Agreement”.
Palmer also said that the European Commission, which intervened in the case, supports the IMA’s interpretation of the rights of EU citizens under the Withdrawal Agreement.
David Blundell, who represents the Home Office, argued in court papers that the settlement scheme offers EU citizens “far more generous protections” than required in the Withdrawal Agreement.
She also said the British government had “taken a consistent position that a request to renew pre-settlement status would be necessary” in its negotiations with the European Commission.
Nicholas Kahn, who represents the commission, told Judge Peter Lane that the commission had intervened in the case because of “the importance of the matter to the proper operation of the withdrawal agreement”.
(Reporting by Sam Tobin, Editing in Spanish by Benjamin Michias Valencia)
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