• European Parliament Reacts to UK Offer for EU Nationals Residing in UK
  • July 20, 2017
  • In a recently published common letter, several political leaders of the European Parliament expressed their dissatisfaction with Prime Minister Theresa May's offer on the rights of EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom.

    These political leaders of the European Parliament see striking differences in the protection of EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom compared to the protection the European Union is willing to grant UK nationals in the European Union. They observe that the UK offer proposes that EU nationals obtain the status of "third country nationals" with fewer rights than what other EU Member States offer to UK nationals. Thus, they highlight that the European Parliament would reject any agreement that would result in treating EU nationals less favorably than their current status.

    The main points of concern of the Members of the European Parliament are:

    • The impact on family reunification rights of EU nationals who will become subject to minimum income requirements;
    • The heavy administrative burden put on EU nationals who will be asked to make applications for settled status, especially for those nationals who do not yet qualify for Permanent Residence (the latter will have to apply twice: once to stay, and then again for settled status at a later stage);
    • the remaining uncertainties regarding several issues, e.g., fees European students will have to pay in UK universities, recognition of diplomas and situation of cross border workers; and
    • the uncertainty around the cut-off date in the UK proposal.

    The European Parliament has also stressed the importance of having an enforcement mechanism in which the European Court of Justice plays a central role.

    Background

    EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom are currently able to obtain settled status, otherwise known as Permanent Residence, by exercising treaty rights in the United Kingdom for five years - through, for example, working or studying.

    In an initial offer on June 22, 2017, Prime Minister May indicated that the United Kingdom would agree to a cut-off date sometime between March 29, 2017 (the date on which Article 50 was formally triggered) and March 28, 2019 (the date by which Brexit negotiations must be concluded). By the agreed cut-off date, EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom would still be able to obtain settled status as per the current law. It is anticipated that those arriving to the United Kingdom through the date of UK's departure from the EU would have a grace period to accrue the required period for the same settled status. The grace period is expected to be two years.

    What This Means for Employers and Foreign Nationals

    There is no immediate impact on EU nationals residing in the United Kingdom. Whereas this is not an official position of the European Union as a whole, the content of this common letter and the European Parliament's role in the withdrawal agreement are significant as the European Parliament must give its consent to the final agreement by simple majority. These matters will likely be subject to further negotiation.