Polish Londoner

These are the thoughts and moods of a born Londoner who is proud of his Polish roots.

Thursday, 29 December 2016

Letter to David Davis, Brexit Minister on EU citizens in UK

Dear Minister,
I am grateful for receiving an unsigned letter dated 22 December 2016 – ref TO006534 from your Correspondence Unit of the Department for Exiting the European Union on the subject of EU citizens’ rights in this country. Regretfully I have to say that as a former Vice-Chairman of the Federation of Poles in great Britain and a former Ealing Borough Councillor I found the response somewhat unsatisfactory despite your Department’s assurances about “protecting the status of EU nationals already living here” and for the following reasons:
1/ What does “already living here” mean? What is the deadline? Does the Government intend to allow more EU citizens to arrive here before the deadline is set at some date in the distant future? It does make this open to abuse by later EU arrivals seeking to settle. The quicker your Government makes that announcement, the less abuse there would be.
2/ Just allowing EU citizens to carry on undergoing the complex procedure of applying for permanent residence and digging up all details of their travel, home addresses and details of employment over the past 5 or so years is not only especially onerous for the applicants and their families but, at the present rate that such applications are processed by the Home Office, it could take nearly 20 years to be implemented fully for all those eligible. Also these applications are more likely to be rejected by the Home Office because of the difficulty of obtaining the right information, especially for the self-employed
3/ Your proposal does not secure the rights of those who are not yet eligible for permanent residence as they have been here less than 5 years, and seriously undermines the rights of those who have been here legally under Treaty rules for less than 3 years, as their eligibility would still remain uncertain after the supposed 2 year negotiation period is over
4/ The status of permanent residence is an EU concept and will in any case be likely to be formally substituted by the UK’s “indefinite leave to remain” status and that change could involve further bureaucracy
5/ The future status of EU citizens, even with “permanent residence”, are likely to be disenfranchised of their eligibility to participate in local government elections as soon as the EU negotiations are completed, despite the fact that they pay council tax and national insurance
6/ UK employers are still finding it difficult to plan long term with their investment and employment policies because of uncertainty over the status of their current and future EU employees
7/ The dragged-out procedure for granting permanent residence or other equivalent means of ensuring the right to stay is not likely to impress other EU countries when negotiations begin after March 2017 and could be applied in the same way to UK citizens in those countries
8/ In the meantime criminal elements from the EU and those working illegally without payment of taxes would continue to live here over the 2 year negotiating period on the same status as law abiding EU citizens
9/ This elongated procedure does not make clear to perpetrators of hate crime that EU citizens currently here have a right to stay and work here, and their children have a right to attend school here.

In my opinion most of these issues can be resolved by a resolute and early decision before March 2017 to create a new legal status open to all EU citizens currently living here under Treaty rules (with some similarity to the status of Maltese citizens). A possible name for it could be “Maastricht Treaty status”. Eligibility for this status and issuing of the appropriate new ID could be handled by local government based on the electoral and social services records as well as registered births and marriages already in their possession, but enhanced by relevant records from the Home Office and DWP and financed from a special central reserve fund at the Home Office. In my view the advantages would be as follows:
1/ The deadline for eligibility can be set immediately as soon as the announcement is made. This would prevent a later surge of EU citizens to this country.
2/ Eligibility can be established very quickly by local government and will not require the complex procedures required by the Home Office for acquiring permanent residence. IDs can be issued with same speed as local bus passes.
3/ The new Status encompasses all EU citizens currently here as long as they have national insurance numbers and have not abused welfare payments or been guilty of criminal offences either here or in their country of origin. It will ease the deportation of EU criminals with no right of return.
4/ The new status would be the same as the current EU status under permanent residence but with the added right to continue to participate in local elections
5/ UK employers will be able to commence their medium and long-term planning on investment and recruitment
6/ This will have a positive effect on the EU negotiations once they begin and will make it much more likely that EU countries will reciprocate with similar rights for UK citizens abroad.
7/ Their special status protects EU citizens from intimidation by perpetrators of hate crime
8/ This is a one off right applicable only to citizens currently here from the current EU countries, including Croatia, but would not apply to citizens of any new member countries of the EU.

I would like to thank you for allowing me to make my views known and I hope that you will have the opportunity to discuss these issues with your colleagues on the Cabinet and your Civil Servants. I am also forwarding a similar letter to the Chairman of Parliamentary Select Committee on Brexit and a copy to my local MP – Dr Rupa Huq.

Yours sincerely,

Wiktor Moszczyński

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