UK backs down in legal battle over EU residents’ rights

UK backs down in legal battle over EU residents’ rights
Опубликовано: Thursday, 16 February 2023 09:48

Home Office says it will abide by a court ruling calling the post-Brexit residence scheme for EU nationals unlawful.

LONDON — The U.K. Home Office will not appeal a court ruling that called the government’s post-Brexit residence scheme for EU nationals unlawful, a spokesperson confirmed.

The High Court of England and Wales determined in December that the Home Office was acting unlawfully by removing residence rights from EU nationals if they fail to apply twice to stay in the U.K. after Brexit. The Home Office had initially insisted it would appeal the decision, but a spokesperson told POLITICO’s London Playbook late Wednesday it had reversed course.

“After careful consideration, we have informed the court that we do not wish to pursue the appeal,” the spokesperson said. “We are working to implement the judgment as swiftly as possible and will provide an update in due course.”

The High Court had taken issue with the EU Settlement Scheme’s two-stage structure: After Brexit, EU citizens who had lived in the U.K. for less than five years had to apply for “pre-settled” status — then apply again for “settled” status once they hit the five-year mark. The judge said people who failed to make this second application risked being deemed illegal “overstayers,” despite having rights to stay under the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.

The U.K. policy has been a source of bad blood between the U.K. government and the European Commission, which last year accused the U.K. of splitting EU citizens into two cohorts and being less generous with them than the Brexit divorce deal requires.

The group the3million — which campaigns for EU nationals’ rights in the U.K. and broke the news of the Home Office reversal in a tweet — said the government will need to “implement changes” to the policy. Co-CEO Monique Hawkins said the decision “has averted a ticking time bomb.” The Independent Monitoring Authority for citizens’ rights agreements previously said it would liaise with the Home Office on the outcome of the “landmark” case, which it brought forth.

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