May's plans to force EU to citizens sign a register after Brexit could be illegal

  • MEPs warn Home Secretary Amber Rudd that plans to make EU citizens sign a register after Brexit are illegal and would be blocked by EU Parliament.
  • MEPs from multiple parties say the UK government must accept EU law during a transition deal.
  • Rudd’s plans for EU citizens are “extremely troubling,” MEPs say in a letter to the Home Secretary.

LONDON — A cross-party groups of MEPs have warned Amber Rudd that a government proposal to make EU citizens add their names to a register during a Brexit transition period would be illegal and unacceptable.

MEPs representing a number of parties in the European Parliament have written to the British Home Secretary saying the Home Office’s plans are “extremely troubling” and do not comply with EU law, the Guardian reports.

Rudd told the Home Affairs committee last week that she would expect EU nationals living in Britain to register with the authorities in the period immediately following the country dropping out of the EU in March 2019.

However, figures in Brussels insist that EU laws and the bloc’s institutions must continue to apply to Britain during a transition period, with the rights of EU citizens being no exception.

Writing to Rudd this week, MEPs including Labour’s Seb Dance and Liberal Democrat Catherine Bearder, say: “Is the Home Office suggesting that only non-UK EU citizens needs to register? Article 26 of the freedom of movement directive makes it very clear that residency cards are for everyone, or no one.

“We find it extremely troubling for the home secretary of a member state currently complying with EU laws to make such a statement.”

We also heard you say during the committee hearing that those EU citizens who fail criminal records checks may be rejected.

“Article 7 of the freedom of movement directive clearly states the necessary areas of compliance for an EU citizen to reside in a member state and criminality is not one of them.”

Any deal reached between British and EU negotiators will require approval from the EU Parliament at the end of the Article 50 process before it can be signed off by Brussels, including the terms of any transition deal.

The issue of the rights of EU citizens living in Britain and Brits living abroad has been the source of tension between the UK government and figures in Brussels.

Prime Minister Theresa May sparked outrage earlier this month when she told LBC’s Iain Dale that she “didn’t know” whether EU citizens in Britain would be able to stay if Britain leaves without a deal in place.

Invited by Dale to say EU citizens would be able to stay “under any circumstances,” May said: “We want you to stay. That’s the basic message, we want to make sure you can stay in the UK.”

The PM added: “What I’m going to say to Nina is that we will look at the arrangements that we would put in place in relation to ‘no-deal.’ We’re doing that at the moment – government across the board is doing work on that.

“We have teams of people working on every possible outcome. You would expect the Government to prepare… because we don’t know what’s going to happen.

“We’re working really hard to get a really good deal. We don’t know what’s going to happen and at the end of that if there is no deal, then we have to be prepared for it.”

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