Brexit: Brussels considers paying EU citizens' application fees for staying in UK

Jean-Claude Juncker is said to have discussed using the EU budget

Jon Stone
Brussels
Tuesday 23 January 2018 12:17 GMT
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EU citizens march in London
EU citizens march in London (Getty)

The European Commission could be preparing to pay the cost of EU citizens’ applications to remain living in the UK after Brexit, according to reports.

The Guardian newspaper says Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker has discussed using the EU budget to fund the £72 application fee for “settled status” in Britain after the UK leaves.

The British Government has insisted on charging EU citizens living in the country if they want to stay, though it says they will be expected to pay “no more than the cost of a passport” for applications.

The European Parliament, which has a veto on the final Brexit deal, has repeatedly said the process must be free to EU nationals and be based on a “declaration” rather than an application process.

The full details of the application process for EU citizens in the UK are not yet known, however, and are expected to be unveiled later this week.

The discussion about the Commission covering the cost is said to have come at a meeting with the European Parliament’s Brexit steering committee, which liaises regularly Mr Juncker and chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

Asked about paying the fees for EU nationals, a European Commission spokesperson told reporters in Brussels: “You know well that we do not speculate on specific issues linked to the negotiations.”

The Parliament has been particularly concerned with the rights of EU citizens and has been driving the issue forward in talks.


Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker 

 Theresa May and Jean-Claude Juncker 
 (AFP/Getty)

Speaking at the European Parliament’s constitutional affairs committee on Tuesday morning, Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, did not rule out the EU collecting application details of EU citizens living in the UK rather than the Home Office.

The suggestion comes amid serious concerns in Brussels about the competence of the Home Office, following a number of high profile errors concerning EU citizens.

According to leaked draft European Council directives seen by The Independent, the EU will insist that full free movement continues until at least 2020, the end of the transition period. Applications for settled status would only be required after this point.

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