EU Nationals: On Your Side

EMiS and its local groups fight for our fellow Europeans resident in Scotland, many for most of their working lives, to be given the same rights and benefits as the rest of our 5.4m population.

As supporters of the Freedom of Movement we enjoyed as EU members, we back the Scottish Government campaign for as many EU nationals to be allowed to come here for work and study as before.

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What Can I Do?

EMiS is cooperating with two key organisations active on the ground. Find out more about their work and how you can support them.

Immigration Policy

UK immigration policy operates on a ‘one size fits all’ basis, with no scope for it to vary in line with the demographic needs of the different nations and regions. We believe that power over immigration policy should be devolved to Scotland, or at the very least there should be a Scotland-specific immigration policy which addresses demographic decline and skills shortages. EU citizens contribute massively to the Scottish economy, culture and society. We need more of them, not fewer.

That’s why our activists/supporters offered information, encouragement and advice in the run-up to the deadline for EU nationals living and working in Scotland to apply for settled status.

The deadline for applications passed on June 30 2021 but, thanks to a huge campaign, ministers bowed to public pressure and offered temporary protection to late applicants, with an estimated 400,000 applications still to be processed.

But the Home Office, under the implacable right-wing extremist Priti Patel, continues to discriminate against our fellow Europeans:

  • Tens of thousands of elderly and vulnerable people remain at risk because they didn’t manage to apply for Settled Status 
  • The Home Office has started deporting or threatening to deport EU friends and neighbours.
  • The Home Office has refused to acknowledge its mistakes, even as judges have ruled its deportations unlawful

These are just the most striking among a host of reasons why we will carry on campaigning for the rights of EU citizens in Scotland .

What do EU citizens think?

Imperfect Status

Since 1 July, people with Pre-settled or Settled Status under the EU Settlement Scheme must rely on a digital-only system to prove their rights.  Unfortunately, we are now seeing problems with lost job opportunities, border trouble, landlords getting suspicious and benefits being terminated.

HOW do EU citizens living & working here feel about their situation?

A Child’s Tale – the story of a girl born in the UK post Brexit

A sense of betrayal – EU citizens in Scotland talk about their personal feelings about Brexit and the Settled Status scheme.

For the situation among those left floundering/behind in Greater Manchester (or, indeed, it could be anywhere) read here.

Tanja Bueltman and Alexandra Bulat have compiled an indispensable report on EU Citizens’ Identity, Belonging and Representation Post-Brexit, with several life stories.

Summary of main findings

  • 35.06% of respondents came to the UK for work and had an offer of employment before moving
  • 18.66%, came to the UK to look for work
  • University education was the second-most important reason, with 29.72% of respondents moving to the UK for it
  • 14.19% of respondents moved to the UK to join family.

The majority can be considered settled in the UK, i.e. their average age profile, details on arrival date and future plans, show that a majority built their lives in the UK and are settled here.

Despite that, Brexit constitutes a serious rupture: while the majority do see themselves in the UK permanently or long-term (73.39%), there is a sizeable proportion who intend to leave in the near future or only stay short-term (14.65%).

Data show that Brexit triggered a new sense of unease and uncertainty, with 58.62% agreeing that it increased the likelihood of them leaving the UK.

This figure would likely be even higher were it not for practical barriers such as age and concern over pension rights: reasons why they decided not to leave the UK.

Their sense of home has been damaged by Brexit, particularly in terms of them feeling less attached and more insecure about their status in the UK.

Despite that, a plurality of respondents, 44.72%, still feel at home in the UK.

Much of the uncertainty that does exist relates to specific issues over rights and what could happen to the EUSS in future, specifically a clear scepticism that rights might not be preserved as promised; references to the Windrush scandal are common, for example. These concerns are primarily a result of a lack of trust in the UK Government.

Holders of pre-settled status feel most insecure about their right to continue living in the UK, while holders of settled status feel most insecure about the right to welfare support and free healthcare in the NHS in future.

For further detail: please download the report, or read more here.

EU Nationals in Scotland

In 2020, according to National Records, 231,000 EU27 Citizens lived in Scotland  – slightly down on 2019 but still some 4% of the total population of 5.4 million and 56% of the non-British population. The Scottish Government says (as of June 3 2021) 240,000 have been given the right to remain (settled or pre-settled status), with 250,040 out of 263,220 applications concluded: 141,220 have been granted settled status and 102,000 pre-settled status.

The Scottish Government had written three letters to EU27 citizens living and working here extending a warm welcome and encouraging them to seek settled/pre-settled status. On a UK basis for that status, 3.5m EU nationals lived here but 6m applications had been submitted by the deadline, with 5.4m concluded: 2.8m given settled status and 2.3m pre-settled status.

In mid-August it was reported that 58,000 had applied after the deadline while 144,120 applications were concluded in July, according to the Home Office.

And here’s an update on Scotland’s population needs and the @scotgov Population Taskforce

Supporting EU Citizens

EU Citizens’ Rights Project

Mark Lazarowicz, EUCRP chair and EMiS chair, writes:

“Every day, we see more evidence of the damage being done by Brexit. It is damaging our economy, our trade, and our international standing. And it is damaging communities – and people.

Mark Lazrowicz

Amongst the most vulnerable people are some of the almost 5m EU citizens and their families who have made their home in the UK. 

Many (not all) have had real problems in getting the right to stay, work, live in the UK. And even if they get their settled status , many EU citizens are already experiencing other problems. Discrimination, ignorance from business and public bodies about their rights and, in some cases, even wrongful detention. 

Moreover, despite requests from EU citizens campaign organisations, and the Scottish Government, the UK government is still refusing to issue those EU citizens essential ‘physical proof’ of their right to remain in the UK. 

That is why the European Movement in Scotland has made one of our top priorities the need to support EU citizens in Scotland. And we want to make that support practical – talk is easy, but what these EU citizens and their organisations need is practical backing.”

EU Citizens’ Rights Project is the leading organisation, working across the whole of Scotland, supporting and advising EU citizens, and speaking up for their needs and interests. It has a dedicated small team of staff, and volunteers, who have work to make sure that EU citizens have a secure future in this country. They have made a special effort to reach vulnerable and excluded members of that community, and to get information and advice even to the most remote areas.

the 3 Million

The3million are the leading campaign group for EU citizens working across the UK.  They’ve taken up issues like the need for “physical proof” of settled status, and the need to make sure EU citizens settled in the UK do not face discrimination, and get their rights.

Raise awareness across your networks of the3million

Report it forms can be used to report problems with viewing and proving status using the digital-only system and problems with applying to the scheme.  These real life reports give the3million clear examples and data on common issues which they can use to strengthen their advocacy.  The forms can be completed by the person themselves or by someone on their behalf. 

Support the Proof Equality Now campaign

Write to your MP and as many supportive Peers* as you can to demand “Proof Equality Now” for EU citizens.
The campaign focuses on a proposal for proof of immigration status which uses secure QR code technology, as the government has done for vaccine certification. It’s secure, inclusive and cost-effective.

MPs and Peers from all parties are responding positively and the Government has confirmed they are looking at the proposal. So, keep up the pressure, including on Conservative MPs and Peers.

Try and write about real examples of problems people are having.  This could be problems you or someone you know has had, or you could cite reports you have seen in the media and say why these concern you as one of their constituents. 

(*See the campaign page for a list of Peers who supported an amendment to last year’s Immigration Bill which would have provided physical proof of status to EU Citizens.  Sadly, the amendment was defeated in the Commons.)

Raise awareness of the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA)

The Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA) has statutory powers to protect the rights afforded to EU and EEA-EFTA citizens living in the UK by the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement and the EEA EFTA Separation Agreement.  It is important for them to know about cases where EU citizens’ rights have not been upheld by making complaints about unfair treatment.  

(H/T Grassroots for Europe)

Images: UK Border by Dannyman on Wikimedia Commons CC BY 2.0; settled status application via Cmspic /; of Mark Lazarowicz by himself, Wikimedia Commons, CC BY-SA 4.0; of Rosenmontag in Mainz via C.Suthorn / cc-by-sa-4.0 /