The Government’s plans for registering EU citizens after Brexit must be ‘appropriately resourced and funded’ to avoid a repeat of the Windrush generation crisis, the EU today told the new Home Secretary.
The European Parliament’s Brexit co-ordinator MEP Guy Verhofstadt set out a series of concerns about how the rights of EU citizens in the UK would be protected after Brexit.
He said officials should be able to make decisions on individual cases within two working days and stressed that the system must be free to use because it is ‘unacceptable that citizens that were never consulted on Brexit should have to pay to retain their own rights’.
Mr Verhofstadt said the Windrush generation crisis had ‘generated a great deal of concern’ among European politicians and citizens, and told Mr Javid: ‘I can only urge you to go to all lengths to dispel any fears that what was visited on the Windrush generation will not be repeated in respect of EU citizens living in the UK.’
Setting out his proposal for a two-day deadline for decisions, Mr Verhofstadt said the system should ‘not create unnecessary anxiety’.
If no reply has been received from the Home Office within two working days, ‘the absence of response should be taken as tacit acceptance of the registration,’ he said.
The former Belgian prime minister called for more details about the oversight and appeals process and raised concerns about how the need to register would be communicated to the 3.5 million EU citizens affected.
Hinting that more money would be need to be allocated to the problem, Mr Verhofstadt said for the measures to be successful they ‘will need to be appropriately resourced and funded’.
‘This goes not just for communication actions but more importantly to ensure the proper functioning of a network of contact points, the ability of the Home Office to make home visits where justified or just simply to handle what will be a vast case load given that we are speaking of the Home Office having to process more than 3.5 million applicants.’
At a briefing with Home Office officials earlier this month, MEPs were told that the online application designed to let EU nationals register for settled status would not work on iPhones.
Mr Verhofstadt told the new Home Secretary: ‘We would urge as a matter of urgency that you try to resolve the problem with Apple.’