Is That It? EU Citizens Like Me Have Waited 18 Months For ‘Sufficient Progress’?

“So the deal is done, EU citizens rights guaranteed.

Not for me, because I don’t fall under the terms of Directive 2004/38, which will be used to determine ’settled status.’

Even though I have been continuously in the UK for 32 years, and I am sick, I could STILL lose my rights and possibly get deported.

Today is not a relief or reason to celebrate for me, the opposite is true. My future looks bleaker than ever.”

This is just one of many worried messages I have received today. The agreement on ‘sufficient progress’ came as a surprise to EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in Europe. It offers a flawed compromise and no life-long guarantees for citizens’ rights – some of the concessions come with a time limit and the UK Parliament will have the right to revoke them.

Our rights should not have an expiry date. More worryingly, after 18 months there is still no clarity around the registration criteria for these rights. This agreement greenlights the UK’s settled status proposal, which requires over three million people to apply for the right to stay instead of having existing  residence rights simply certified.

The current Home Office registration system has an error rate of 10% and a rejection rate of 27%. This is likely to go up significantly when three million people have to apply for settled status.

Considering the constraints of the Home Office and its current Hostile Environment policy I am deeply worried that the EU citizens most at risk such as carers, people with disability or the elderly will struggle while anybody could be at the receiving end of an erroneous deportation letter.  Under the settled status, anyone rejected will fall under the ‘hostile environment’ losing their right to work and rent in the UK. Many EU nationals are at risk of becoming destitute even if they believe their application is straightforward.

The UK wasted a precious opportunity to take up the EU’s comprehensive offer on citizens’ rights back in June. Instead, they decided to link the status of EU nationals in the UK to immigration, which resulted in the subsequent horse trading and significantly worse status that we all may face now.

There are a huge number of people still in the dark about whether they will qualify or not. Hundreds and thousands of them might get a letter that they have to go.

If it takes 18 months to produce something this flawed then imagine what will happen once citizens’ rights get buried under all the trade arguments about airline slots and fish quotas.

Summarised, today’s agreement is a lifelong guarantee for some until future UK Governments decide it is a lifelong guarantee for none.

I urge the European Parliament not to endorse this deal when they vote on it next week in Strasbourg.