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Jean Lambert London's Green MEP

May’s “big and generous” proposal on EU nationals offers further uncertainty, says Green MEP

26 June 2017

Theresa May has unveiled her proposals to protect the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals in the EU27 post-Brexit. [1]

The 15-page document fails to reciprocate the EU’s genuinely generous offer on citizens’ rights, published earlier this month, which calls for Britons in Europe to continue to hold all current rights for the rest of their lives. [2]

Jean Lambert, London’s Green MEP and the Green Party’s migration spokesperson, said in response:

“A full year after the EU referendum, Theresa May has finally laid out her stance on the future of citizens’ rights post-Brexit. The Prime Minister has made a handful of concessions. Yet, the 15-page document offers no quick fixes. If anything, it causes more anxiety and uncertainty for EU citizens living in the UK and British expats in the EU27.

If adopted, every single EU national in the UK will be required to apply for ‘settled status’ through the Government’s scheme. Depending on their current position, some will be forced to apply multiple times. For the individuals involved, it’ll be a demoralising experience resulting in fewer rights than they started out with. For the Home Office, processing the potential 3.2 million applications will be a bureaucratic nightmare.

The offer also fails to resolve a number of issues cited as deal-breakers by the EU in their proposal set out some weeks ago. The Government’s threat to set a cut-off date for citizens to qualify for ‘settled status’ which might be before the UK has formally left the EU is particularly worrying and legally questionable. It has rebuffed the EU’s requirement for its nationals to have recourse to the ECJ post-Brexit. And it is still refusing to ring-fence this issue – a gesture that would show some willingness to guarantee citizens’ rights.

The proposal does throw citizens some crumbs of good news. The Government’s move to scrap its requirement for EU nationals in the UK to provide proof of comprehensive sickness insurance and its plan to modernise the application process to make it as “smooth and simple as possible” will help to ease the burden on both citizens and the Home Office. The assurances on recognition of qualifications are also welcome.

This is undoubtedly a step forward. However, a number of questions are still left unanswered. I will continue to fight in the European Parliament to protect citizens’ indivisible rights. And as I’ve said before, if MEPs feel that the rights of EU nationals in the UK and British nationals overseas are not fully protected, we will not vote in favour of the final Brexit agreement.”

Last Friday, on the anniversary of the referendum to leave the EU, Jean launched her new Free Movement Hub. This provides advice and resources for citizens who are concerned about their right to free movement, and updates on her work to ensure this is protected. Find out more here: