EU calls on UK to respect citizens’ rights after abuse scandals | European Union
EU leaders will call on Boris Johnson to respect the rights of their citizens following scandals over their treatment in the UK, including their detention in removal centers, according to a draft statement leaked by the Guardian.
The message to the British Prime Minister will follow a first discussion on EU-UK relations between the 27 heads of state and government since the ratification of the trade and cooperation agreement signed last Christmas Eve.
“The European Council calls on the UK to respect the principle of non-discrimination between member states and the rights of EU citizens,” leaders must say, adding that agreements reached with Downing Street must be fully implemented. artwork.
European capitals are increasingly concerned about the UK government’s approach to their nationals, including those whose rights are guaranteed by the torturously negotiated Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
A new body set up as part of the Withdrawal Agreement to ensure citizens’ rights are respected after Brexit says it is’ actively considering ‘statutory action against Home Office over difficulties encountered by EU nationals in the UK seeking so-called settlement status.
In a statement released last week, the Independent Monitoring Authority for Citizens’ Rights Agreements said it was in talks with the Home Office amid reports of concerns about the application process. .
The Guardian has reported on a series of cases where long-time UK citizens, including dual nationals, have received letters sent in error by the Home Office advising them of the risk of losing the right to work, benefits and benefits. free health care unless they apply for UK immigration status within a few weeks.
There have further been testimonials from EU nationals with UK job interviews who say they were refused entry, locked up and forced to endure the traumatic and humiliating experience of l eviction, despite Home Office rules explicitly allowing conditions.
The issues facing EU nationals in the UK or seeking to enter the country, however, are just the latest concerns regarding the post-Brexit relationship.
The leaders’ statement, which could change further ahead of next week’s Thursday summit, is also expected to address other areas that have proven to be very problematic in recent months, including the right of EU fishing vessels to operate. in UK waters.
Earlier this month, Johnson sent two Royal Navy patrol boats into the waters around Jersey in response to threats from French fishermen to block the island’s main port on access to surrounding waters. A French minister had suggested that the EU could also cut off Jersey’s electricity supply if the UK failed to honor the deal contained in the trade deal. The EU fears that agreed access rights may be violated by the UK bureaucracy.
The bigger problem that looms, however, is that of the movement of goods between Great Britain and Northern Ireland, where the European Commission and the United Kingdom are struggling to find mutually satisfactory solutions that will allow both unhindered movement and protection of the EU single market.
The thorniest issue is food safety and sanitary and phytosanitary controls and barriers on goods entering Northern Ireland which Brussels says are necessary to maintain EU sanitary and phytosanitary standards.
Lord Frost, the UK minister responsible, is seeking an “equivalency” deal that would see the EU recognize UK standards as roughly in line with its own to allow checks to be lifted. But Brussels, in response, insists on a complete alignment of the law.
According to the draft declaration, the leaders will welcome the trade deal and the withdrawal agreement, but insist that “both agreements must be fully and effectively implemented” and offer little hope of movement on the issue. of the Northern Ireland Protocol.
They will say: “The two agreements allow the EU to have as close a partnership as possible with the UK, while recognizing that a non-member of the EU cannot enjoy the same advantages as a member and that the relationship must be founded. on a balance of rights and obligations at all times.
“Relations with the UK must remain mutually beneficial and in no way undermine the integrity of the single market, the customs union or the decision-making autonomy of the EU.”
“The European Council invites the Commission to continue its efforts to ensure the full implementation of the agreements, including in the areas of fisheries and a level playing field, within the framework of continuous coordination and permanent dialogue with the Council and its preparatory bodies in accordance with established practice, ”added the leaders.
“The European Council will remain seized of the matter and the EU will continue to be united in its engagement with the UK.”