EU Rights Clinic Petition Urges the European Parliament to Ensure Stronger Protection of Citizens’ Rights After Brexit

The EU Rights Clinic and 80 signatories have submitted a Petition calling on the European Parliament to take immediate action to address specific gaps and omissions in the draft Withdrawal Agreement concerning the protection of citizens’ rights in connection with Brexit.  **You can register your support for the Petition here.**

This follows up on our letter to EU Council President Donald Tusk which called upon the Council to instruct the European Commission to address those matters related to citizens’ rights which were not covered by the interim deal that concluded the first phase of negotiations in December 2017. Unfortunately, the Council has

In its response, the Council’s General Secretariat has merely indicated that “[t]he provisional agreement on phase one issues reflected in the Joint Report of 8 December 2017, contains clear commitments relating to citizens’ rights that will allow citizens and their family members to continue to live, work and study as they did before the UK’s withdrawal from the EU.

We have since enlisted the support of several MEPs at the European Parliament. Following a Written Question tabled by Julie Ward MEP, the reply received from Commission President Juncker simply stated that Surinder Singh and Zambrano family members were not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement.

Given the lack of progress in ensuring citizens rights are fully protected the EU Rights Clinic – together with 80 other signatories – has now submitted a Petition to the European Parliament.

In the Petition we have requested the European Parliament’s Petition Committee to hold a hearing as a matter of urgency and to issue a short motion for a Parliamentary resolution calling on the Council and the Commission to remedy the gaps and omissions in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

Surinder Singh family members and Zambrano carers still excluded from the Draft Withdrawal Agreement

The draft Withdrawal Agreement still fails to address the rights of those family members of both UK and EU citizens who have returned to their home country after having resided in another EU Member State (Surinder Singh family members) during the transitional period.

Moreover, so-called Zambrano carers (non-EU parents of British children living in the UK) are also excluded from the list of citizens eligible for the UK’s proposed new EU settlement scheme.

Although the EU Rights Clinic received assurances from the UK Home Office that Surinder Singh and Zambrano family members would be covered by the “settled status”, the Statement of Intent released on 21 June 2018 regrettably does not address their situation in a satisfactory manner.

Clarity needed for inactive EU citizens and their family members

It is also essential for the Withdrawal Agreement to reflect the commitments made by the UK government regarding residence rights. While the UK government has made commitments on the matter – such as waiving the requirement for holding comprehensive sickness insurance – these need to be the subject of formal binding provisions in the draft Withdrawal Agreement.

The absence of such commitments from the draft Withdrawal Agreement is a likely source of anxiety and distress for EU citizens in the UK due to the uncertainty surrounding their binding effect on the UK government. Their inclusion in the Withdrawal Agreement would go a significant way to allay the fears of EU citizens and their family members in connection with their right to remain in the UK after Brexit.

Appeal rights need to be bolstered

The Withdrawal Agreement only provides for rights of appeal in connection with residence rights. Yet the scope of citizens rights covered by the Withdrawal Agreement is much wider and covers workers’ rights (Articles 22-24), professional qualifications (Articles 25-27) and social security rights (Articles 28-31). The Withdrawal Agreement needs to ensure such personal rights also carry an explicit right of appeal.

In addition, the Withdrawal Agreement must preserve access to the EU’s assistance services – SOLVIT and Your Europe Advice – for the benefit of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in EU 27, together with their family members, at the very least for the period of 8 years following the end of the transitional period specified in Article 151.

You can find the Executive Summary of the submitted Petition here.

You can register your support for the Petition here.