Examination of Witnesses

Part of Immigration and Social Security Co-ordination (EU Withdrawal) Bill – in a Public Bill Committee at 3:59 pm on 14th February 2019.

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Kalba Meadows:

Yes, there are very great practical problems, because of the question of registration across the different EU27 countries, as was mentioned by a witness earlier. There are very different schemes in practice for British citizens living in the EU. Some countries—like my country, France—do not apply any kind of registration system at all for British citizens or EU citizens from another country who are living there. So we have between 150,000 and 200,000 British citizens living in France, only around 16% of whom have any form of registration at the moment. Other countries have a system of registering your residence, but nothing else; other countries have greater systems, where you register your residence and apply for a relevant card. As you can see, there is already a huge difference between how people are treated across the countries.

Come 29 March, if there is no deal ,all of us will share one thing: overnight we will become third-country nationals. Now, without any form of legislation in our host countries, we would become illegal—literally within a minute. All of our current rights would fall away. We are totally reliant on our host countries putting into place legislation that would stop that happening. So far, legislation has been very slow to arrive. My country, France, was the first to bring out legislation; I hope to say a little more about that later. But the issue is that we are going to have 26—I am excluding Ireland here, for obvious reasons—different pieces of legislation, operating in very different ways in very different countries. So there are going to be very big differences between people, according to where they live.

Using my country as an example, we have a number of different cards for people who have been in residence for less than five years. Everybody who has been in residence in any EU country for less than five years has to fit into national immigration law. Long-term residence status, which is mixed competence between EU and national law, does not come into effect until the five year point.

As you can see, there is a big gap there. Everybody is going to be taking a different route to get there, and it is entirely possible that there will be large numbers of people who simply do not meet the conditions. What of them?