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Some EU Citizens With Criminal Records Will be Allowed to Stay in UK After Brexit

Some EU Citizens With Criminal Records Will be Allowed to Stay in UK After Brexit

EU Citizens Living in the UK

The European Union is demanding that the Government drops its proposal to vet all the European citizens who are expected to apply for the right to remain in Britain after Brexit.

Brussels believes a British plan to carry out criminal records checks on every EU citizen seeking “settled status” in the UK goes too far. So-called “settled status” effectively guarantees EU citizens in the UK indefinite leave to remain in the country once Britain is out of the bloc.

The plan, which could mean as many as three million EU citizens living in the UK being subject to checks, was a source of great friction during the first full round of Brexit negotiations, according to one EU diplomat.

Checks are only lawful if there is reasonable suspicion, says Brussels

The EU believes such a blanket check to be impermissible under EU law and says the UK should only undertake checks on the basis of reasonable suspicion, an insider close to the negotiations said.

Britain insists that EU nationals’ criminal records should be checked when they apply for settled status because the public expect the Government to be able to carry out at least brief reviews of the police database.

The main EU citizens’ advocacy group in Britain was robust in its response to the government’s proposal. Nicolas Hatton, a founding co-chair of the3million, said it was “treating 3 million EU citizens like potential criminals.”

“Of course, no one wants to see criminals roaming our streets but the assumption that we could all be criminals draws from the fantasy of the bad immigrant,” Hatton said in a statement to the Politico website. “It is so removed from the reality of 3 million people who came to the UK in good faith and are contributing positively to the British society,” he added.

Government wants EU criminals to be subject to UK immigration law after Brexit

At the moment, EU law sanctions governments to expel EU nationals on the grounds of health or public safety, whether an offence was committed before or after their arrival in the host country. The UK wants EU criminals to be subject to UK immigration law after Brexit, meaning they could be expelled under the UK’s own rules. EU officials have said they require more information about this proposal.

David Davis, the Brexit Secretary, has insisted the checks will go ahead despite EU negotiators arguing that they are only lawful if there are reasonable grounds to suspect someone of a criminal past.

However, some EU citizens who have served jail sentences will be allowed to remain, as Britain will use a softer European standard to decide who can stay, rather than a stricter British one. Mr Davis conceded that criminals would only be deported if they pose a “present and sufficiently serious threat” to society, according to a standard which is outlined in the EU’s Free Movement directive. This would be the basis for any decision, rather than the UK test which requires that deportation would have to be “conducive to the public good.”

UK citizens living in the EU are part of the equation

Claude Moraes, chair of the European Parliament’s civil liberties committee and Brexit steering committee member, noted that the UK should expect any agreement on the matter to apply equally to UK and EU citizens.

“This is often reported as being just about the three million EU citizens in the UK but it is also about the 1.2 million UK citizens in Europe,” he said, adding “I don’t know exactly how the EU 27 will respond but one aspect will have to be reciprocity.”

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