Britain's unfair treatment of EU nationals to be investigated by Brussels

EU will examine cases where citizens have met 'bureaucratic wall' trying to secure right to remain in UK

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The Independent Online

The European Parliament will launch a task force to investigate the British Government’s treatment of EU nationals following the Brexit vote.

The cross-party group will investigate cases where EU citizens living in the UK have been met with a “bureaucratic wall” while trying to secure their right to remain in the country. 

Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld intends to form the group in response to growing concerns for the plight of EU nationals faced with the uncertainty of Brexit following June's referendum. 

“Why is the British government trying to make it so hard for people who have been living in the UK for decades, who have set up a family there, work there? It is their home,” she told the Guardian

“What sort of signal are they trying to send out to these people? I am not aware of UK nationals trying to apply for citizenship elsewhere in the EU running into these kind bureaucratic walls. I am not saying it doesn’t exist but I have not heard of it yet. I can only suppose other countries are a bit more welcoming and facilitating.”

Ms in ‘t Veld said she will also call on the UK Government to justify cases in front of the Parliament’s civil liberties committee where EU nationals have felt unfairly treated. 

“Brexit will be partly a technical negotiation, but ultimately it is about people. The consequence cannot be that millions of people are penalised,” she told the newspaper.

“Once article 50 has been triggered, and negotiations have started, I want to have a task force inside the European parliament that citizens can contact directly so that we can have a clear idea of the difficulties people are facing and try to help.”

Charities and campaigners have accused Theresa May of using EU nationals as a "bargaining chip" for Brexit negotiations after she repeatedly refused to guarantee their right to remain in the UK.

The Prime Minister stated in her first speech outlining the plan for the negotiations that securing EU nationals' right to remain was a priority, but stopped short of offering any concrete assurances. 

However, the Supreme Court judgement that found Ms May must secure approval from parliament before triggering Article 50 offered the first glimmer of hope for EU nationals since the vote. 

Labour and the SNP have vowed to table amendments to any legislation brought forward in a proposed Brexit bill, leaving campaigners hopeful that the rights of EU nationals could feature in opposition proposals. 

Ms in ‘t Veld called on EU nationals to share their experiences with Brussels to get a “clearer image” of the situation facing the roughly three million living and working in the UK. 

Nicolas Hatton, founder of the3million campaign - a group seeking to assure the rights of EU nationals living in the UK - told The Independent: “We would like to see the Conservatives move on this issue and unilaterally grant our rights. This is not something that was part of the debate during the referendum and there is no need to bring EU citizens into the argument.

“The point is EU citizens are suffering, we can't humanely make it last for much longer, it’s not a position anyone would like to be in.”