This week, the 30 June deadline looms for EU citizens applying to stay in the UK, and for the Northern Ireland ban on British chilled meats. We look at what needs to happen before the deadline, the possibility of extensions, and where to find the latest information. Plus, the government reveal proposed changes for local voting rights for EU citizens.
EU citizens given 28-day deadline to apply to stay in UK
EU citizens who have been living in the UK since before 31 December 2020 and who want to continue to live, work and study in the UK, must apply to the EU Settlement Scheme before the 30 June 2021 deadline.
However, Immigration minister Kevin Foster said immigration enforcement officials will be issuing a 28-day notice to those who have not applied (BBC News). Furthermore, Mr Foster said the scheme will be used indefinitely, allowing people to complete an application for settled status if they have a reasonable excuse for delay. One example given was EU students needing settled status to apply for UK universities. Mr Foster also said a “certificate of application” will be issued to the 400,000 applicants waiting for a decision from the Home Office, which can be used “as proof to access their right to work or rent” after the 30 June deadline (The Guardian).
GOV.UK has provided a EU Settlement Scheme: applicant information collection, which provides guidance, support and additional information for EU citizens and their families applying for settled status.
EU set to agree delay to Northern Ireland Protocol meat ban
The EU is considering the UK’s request to postpone the ban on chilled meat products until 30 September. Currently, the Northern Ireland Protocol states that from 30 June, British chilled meats will be banned from Northern Ireland, due to differences in food safety rules between the UK and EU.
It is expected that the EU will agree to the extension, which will allow Irish retailers more time to find a solution. Tesco Chief Executive Ken Murphy has said the supermarket will still be able to sell chilled meats across the 50 stores in Northern Ireland regardless of the ban. Mr Murphy said that Tesco has already begun switching to local sources for chilled meats, “We'll be able to supply the vast majority of what we supply today at competitive prices”. Other major supermarkets are reported to also be sourcing sausages locally for sale in Northern Ireland.
Local voting rights for EU citizens living in the UK
Before the UK left the EU, EU citizens living in the UK were allowed to stand and vote in local elections. These rights were reciprocated to UK citizens living in all EU member states (GOV.UK). However, post-Brexit these voting rights need to be updated to reflect our new relationship with the EU. The proposed changes allow EU citizens with settled status to keep their local voting and candidacy rights.
However, EU citizens who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020 will only be able to gain voting and candidacy rights if their EU Member State allows for the same voting and candidacy rights for UK citizens in return. Some EU Member States have already negotiated voting agreements with the UK, including Spain, Portugal, Luxembourg and Poland, meaning citizens from these countries, who arrived in the UK after 31 December 2020, will retain their right to stand and vote in local elections.
Ireland, Cyprus and Malta are anomalies to this rule, as Cyprus and Malta are both Commonwealth states, and Irish citizens have long-standing rights pre-dating EU membership.