This came in light of reports that the UK Home Office has been deporting EU citizens without sufficient health insurance or maintenance resources – in contravention of the 2004 EU Directive which guarantees the freedom of movement.

Speaking during the Oral Question debate, Barbara Spinelli was in no doubt that as a fully-fledged member of the European Union, the UK must abide by the rules:

“We turn to the Commission with this question because we want to give voice to more than three million of European citizens who live in the UK and to the one million UK citizens living in the EU.”

“It will be extremely difficult to enforce their acquired rights, contrary to what the supporters of the Brexit said.”

“Many falsehoods have been told during the referendum campaign. Too silent and reticent were the supporters of the Remain. It is at least necessary that the Commission speaks out,” the Italian MEP argued.

“The House of Lords has already said in a very clear way that in the absence of a negotiated settlement, the consequences of the loss of EU citizenship rights will be severe.”

“The UK should abide by European Law and the Directive on freedom of movement until the day it will exit from the Union.”

“Until then, the UK cannot simply say that it will only encourage ‘the brightest and the best’ to come to the country – as already been said by the UK Government,” Spinelli added.

Equally alarmed by the development was Matt Carthy, who expressed concern in particular for Irish citizens living in the UK:

“Reports of British officials harshly interpreting residence requirements for EU citizens are alarming.”

“Pre-Brexit, this contravenes EU law. Post-Brexit, it hints at a future of second-class status, deportations and disruption,” he argued.

“This is especially alarming for Ireland where the link between rights and civil status are crucial to the people in the North of Ireland.”

“Under the Good Friday Agreement, everyone born on the island of Ireland has a right to Irish and therefore EU citizenship,” he pointed out.

“We need to reject second-class status for all migrants, regardless of their citizenship; and ensure EU citizens keep access to their rights now and in the future.”

“But we also need to respect the Remain vote of the people of the North of Ireland and ensure their EU citizenship and rights that come with it are maintained.”

“This is why the North of Ireland must be given a special status within the EU,” said Carthy.


Photo courtesy: UK government

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