Tens of thousands of British citizens in five EU member states, including France and the Netherlands, have yet to apply for post-Brexit residency and risk losing their right to live and work there unless they file their claims within. of the 30 days.
“There is only a month left before a strict deadline, after which many people could lose their rights,” said Michaela Benson, a professor of public sociology at Lancaster University, who has specialized in studying British residents in the EU.
“We urgently need more communication – from the UK, the EU and member states – to get in touch, especially with vulnerable and hard-to-reach UK citizens who are at risk of missing a vital cutoff point.”
Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, UK citizens who were legally residing in one of the 27 EU member states at the end of the transition period on December 31 are eligible for permanent residence, protecting their basic rights.
Fourteen countries, including Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy, opted for systems that automatically confer a new post-Brexit residency status on legally resident Britons, without the risk of losing rights if an administrative deadline is missed.
The other 13, however, operate systems under which UK citizens must formally apply for their new residency status. Five of them (France, the Netherlands, Malta, Luxembourg and Latvia) have set a June 30 deadline to do so.
Benson said that people at risk of “falling through the gaps” were often the most vulnerable. “Those who have stayed under the radar for whatever reason, maybe because they couldn’t prove they were legal residents when they had to,” he said.
“Those who need to be concerned are those who are surviving, perhaps in remote areas. They are not likely to occur spontaneously. There will also be homeless Brits, sick Brits, British children in charge ”.
According to the joint EU / UK committee on citizens’ rights, whose last report, dated April 28, was released on friday, an estimated 298,000 Britons live in the 13 countries with so-called constituent systems. Only 190,000 have applied for their new status.
In the five countries with a deadline for the end of June, 25,500 of the estimated 148,000 British residents in France have yet to register, according to the most recent data, as have 8,300 of the estimated 45,000 in the Netherlands.
Almost 800 have yet to apply in Latvia, 1,700 in Luxembourg and 5,300 in Malta, along with 12,000 in Finland and Sweden, which have September 30 deadlines. The deadline in Belgium, Denmark, Austria, Hungary and Slovenia is December 31st.
Benson said the figures were approximate as most were based on 2018 data and some EU states, such as France, had never required EU residents to register with authorities to qualify for public services, for which may have significantly underestimated them.
“That means you may have many more British residents than you imagine, just as the UK had many more EU residents than you thought,” he said. “It also makes it much more difficult to reach them than in places like the Netherlands with up-to-date records.”
According to the EU’s post-Brexit guidance, “failure to apply in time … may lead to the loss of any rights under the withdrawal agreement” in countries with constituent systems, including the right to continue living in them.
According to the committee’s report, an estimated 762,000 UK citizens live in EU countries with automatic or “declarative” systems for post-Brexit residence status, and nearly 165,000 have registered so far.
Several of these 14 countries also have deadlines for UK residents to register for their new status, but those who do not face a fine rather than loss of rights.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism