The Scottish Government has reaffirmed its commitment to supporting EU citizens living in Scotland. Mike Russell MSP who is leading the Scottish Government’s response to the UK’s leaving of the EU said:
“EU citizens make a vital contribution to Scotland and to our economy, society and culture. They must have clarity about their future rights and what Brexit will mean for them and their families. As negotiations get underway again in Brussels it is important that this issue be concluded as soon as possible. “
“It is of course disappointing that it has taken the UK Government a year to set out their plans but with good will on both sides the issues could be settled in the next few days. “
“This issue is also of course about protecting the existing rights of Scots and other UK citizens living in other EU countries, who also continue to face uncertainty over their future. They are also owed an early conclusion.”
EU citizens have feared becoming a bargaining chip in Brexit negotiations since the Leave vote over a year ago. Mike Russell feels that the UK statement on the rights of EU citizens has left many uncertainties with in particular the right to vote, access to services and to benefits. He wants answers to the following questions:
- what the introduction, by the UK Government, of the new immigration category of “settled status” will mean for those who qualify for it, and what rights they will be entitled to?
- what the process and cost of applying for settled status, and for temporary residence during the grace period will be; and what the rules will be for the family members of EU citizens?
- what the scope of wider rights, including for those who have previously worked in the UK or lived here on a temporary basis, will be?
- what the rights of Irish citizens will be?
- how the rights of EU citizens will be protected and enforced in the absence of the European Court of Justice?
- what the cut-off date will be for EU citizens already in the UK to be considered as on a path to settled status?
Orkney has become home to many people from EU countries who have come here to work, to settle and to contribute to our islands. We are all the richer for their contribution to our communities. It is shocking that over a year on they are still unclear about their future.
Reporter: Fiona Grahame