Expats anxious about their residency status after Brexit have the support of Netherlands MEP Sophia in ‘t Veld. Veld, a deputy of the parliament’s ALDE liberals and democrats group, is working to establish a cross-party Brexit Taskforce.
This follows media reports of expats experiencing considerable difficulty applying for permanent residency or nationality before UK leaves the EU.
Ms in ‘t Veld said:
We submitted parliamentary questions on this and I floated the idea of a taskforce or working group. Now stories are starting to come in. They are all different. So far I have mainly heard from EU citizens in the UK and also a few UK citizens in other EU countries.
In the UK the issue is whether the whole procedure and requirements expected of people is in line with the law. There’s a question mark over certain aspects of that. Also, rules can be applied in different ways and, from what I have read so far, people are not treated in a very nice way.
We’re talking about people who’ve been living in the UK for many years. People who are rooted there, with children, businesses, jobs, or retired. They’re making a contribution to British society and yet they are treated as undesirable aliens.
Some of the testimonies are heart-wrenching. Families are afraid they will be separated and people who are retired or disabled or in fragile health are worried about their rights.
I hear the whole procedure is very bureaucratic and unreasonable and there is a 30% rejection rate. People also feel there has been a change in the attitude of the UK government.
The UK is still part of the EU and this is not the way people should be treated in the EU.
Brexit Taskforce for Britons as well
She said that she also wanted to hear stories from British expats who were also experiencing difficulties.
So far, it seems to be the British government is especially concerned. However, if as a result of the Brexit situation, UK citizens in other countries are being treated badly that will be part of the remit of the taskforce.
This story first appeared in France’s English-language newspaper The Connexion.