Mike Russell calls on UK Government for clarity on future of EU citizens living in the UK

Written by Liam Kirkaldy on 17 July 2017 in News

Scottish Government Brexit Minister said it was “disappointing that it has taken the UK Government a year to set out their plans”

EU and UK flags - credit: PA

The UK Government must provide more clarity to the 3.2 million EU citizens living the UK about their rights after Brexit, according to Mike Russell.

Releasing a response paper to proposals published by the UK Government last month, the Scottish Government Brexit Minister said it was “disappointing that it has taken the UK Government a year to set out their plans”, while calling for more information on proposals to give EU migrants currently working in the UK ‘settler status’ after Brexit.

Under the plans, unveiled by Theresa May last month, Europeans who have been living legally and continuously in the UK for at least five years would be able to apply for the status, while those who have been in the country for less time would be able to apply for continued residence on a temporary basis.


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Settler status will not be available automatically and anyone who qualifies will have to apply for their residence status.

The announcement of the UK’s position followed proposals from EU negotiators which would guarantee all British citizens’ rights in the EU and provide continued freedom of movement, which would allow UK citizens to cross borders to work or to retire in another EU country.

Responding to the measures outlined by May, the Scottish Government has questioned what rights would be available to those who apply for settler status, along with how the application process would work and how much it would cost.

The Scottish Government also called for clarity on the future rights of Irish citizens in the UK, how the rights of EU citizens will be protected and enforced in the absence of the European Court of Justice, and what the cut-off date will be for EU citizens already in the UK to be considered as on a path to settled status.

Russell said: “EU citizens make a vital contribution to Scotland and to our economy, society and culture. They must have clarity about their future rights and what Brexit will mean for them and their families. As negotiations get underway again today in Brussels it is important that this issue be concluded as soon as possible. 

“Were Scotland part of the negotiating team, as we have suggested, we would be doing our best to help the UK resolve the matter and any thoughts we offer are given in that spirit.

“It is of course disappointing that it has taken the UK Government a year to set out their plans but with good will on both sides the issues could be settled in the next few days.

“This issue is also of course about protecting the existing rights of Scots and other UK citizens living in other EU countries, who also continue to face uncertainty over their future. They are also owed an early conclusion.”

Travelling to Brussels for the next round of Brexit talks, UK Brexit minister David Davis pledged to make "real progress" on the future rights of European nationals living in the UK.

He told ITV: “For us it's incredibly important we now make good progress. That we negotiate through this and identify the differences, so that we can deal with them, and identify the similarities so that we can move forward”.

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