Brexitgeddon rushes towards us
THE TRANSITION Period that has ensured "business as usual" - keeping the Single Market and freedom of movement between the UK and the EU in place after the UK's withdrawal - ends at 11pm on 31 December, just over three weeks after this article went live.
A trade agreement between the EU and the UK now looks unlikely. Yes, the UK Government seems to be going for No Deal, in the middle of a pandemic. All manner of EU agreements regulating various vital aspects of our lives have yet to be replaced by an agreement that will work after 31 December. Our recent warning about a series of unknowns - travel, cross-border banking, medicines, the uncertain status of UK nationals freelancing across EU jurisdictions – still stands, only with more urgency.
LFB's many members in the UK who are EU nationals, as well as our UK national members in Paris Branch, Brussels Branch, Netherlands Branch and elsewhere in the EU are especially likely to face the adverse effects of a No-Deal Brexit.
Mayor of London Sadiq Khan reminds EU-national Londoners to sort out their EU Settled Status before visiting their country of origin over Christmas. (We understand a big majority already have their Settled Status sorted.) If you haven't done so, you risk difficulties at the UK border on return and discrimination from landlords and when seeking employment.
The Mayor reminds EU citizens than in the UK "organisations have a duty not to discriminate against EU, EEA (Norway or Luxembourg) or Swiss citizens". This means that landlords and employers cannot require you to prove your status under the EU Settlement Scheme until after its deadline for registration of 30 June 2021.
The Mayor of London's European Londoners' Hub is a good first stop for advice. Most embassies of EU Member States have links to independent charities that make grants to their nationals in the UK who suddenly find themselves in dire straits - usually accessible through the website of your country's embassy.
Since the start of the pandemic, newly arrived EU citizens applying for a National Insurance number have been unable to get one - the service is only open to visa holders as part of a stripped-down covid-emergency service. The 3 Million, an advocacy group for EU nationals in the UK, report that EU citizens who haven't got an NI number yet won't be able to get one until April. Meanwhile, this group are having problems finding work or getting paid the right amount.
The 3 Million are also still awaiting clarification from the Home Office on how absences due to covid-19 will affect EU nationals' Settled Status applications. For full Settled Status, you need evidence of five years' residence in the UK. It doesn't necessarily have to be five years’ continuous residence - breaks in that five years are allowed in some circumstances, maternity for example. There's still no ruling on whether enforced absences from the UK, due to not being able to travel back here because of covid-19 restrictions, will affect eligibility for EU nationals who still haven't got full Settled Status.
There is good news for our UK national members living in Germany. The temporary regulations granting permanent residency to the 100,000 UK nationals living in the Federal Republic have been written into law, guaranteeing them and their families a "secure residence status" and the right to stay if they are resident on 31 December 2021. They will need to register with the Auslanderbehorde (Alien Registration) by 30 June 2021. See also here for details of additional Brexit paperwork that UK nationals in France will now have to do.
UK nationals in the Republic of Ireland and Irish nationals in the UK will be able to continue working and living as before, thanks to a Memorandum of Understanding back in May which keeps the existing Common Travel Area agreement in place. (It predates Ireland and the UK entering the EU.)
In anticipation of problems members will face resulting from a likely No-Deal Brexit, there will be a short spot in the Branch AGM on Monday 11 January 2021 for members to get signposted to any post-Brexit emergency help and support that's needed.