The UK’s decision to give money to EU citizens is causing friction with Brussels

The UK has begun paying thousands of EU nationals living in Britain for the health and welfare benefits they received after they were refused permission to stay in the country, sparking fresh tensions with Brussels.

The EU on Thursday expressed “deep concern” over the UK’s decision to require around 141,000 Europeans to pay for NHS treatment and refund the payments they received after treatment. refused to settle because the UK government failed to update its records online.

The EU He spoke about the issue at a meeting with UK officials in Brussels. A joint statement from both sides said: “The EU raised its concerns about EU citizens who received a rejection decision between June 27 2021 and April 19 2022 but whose digital form did not show this until January 2023, due to the implementation of the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS ).

“Brussels has asked for more clarity and clarity on this matter and expressed its dismay at the UK’s decision to refund certain services and benefits.”

According to the statement, a UK he explained the “due process” and the protections available to individuals, and highlighted the need for a similar approach for UK citizens in the context of the EU.

The UK said affected EU nationals were told they had no right to stay but because their online application form said their applications were pending, authorities and government agencies continued to refuse them.

At the meeting, the UK raised issues affecting British citizens in EU countries, related to property rights and access to rights under the withdrawal agreement.

Brussels is under pressure to take action from EU member states who want to protect the rights of their citizens in the UK.

A European diplomat said: “We encourage full flexibility in dealing with this crisis, especially in protecting those who are at risk.”

“Belgium wants it [post-Brexit] The withdrawal agreement must be implemented and fully respected and they have full confidence in the organization to ensure this,” said representatives in Brussels.

The UK government said it “has a responsibility to protect taxpayers’ money, which is why we are taking the necessary steps to ensure that the refunds are returned.

“We are committed to protecting the rights of UK nationals in the EU and EU nationals in the UK, with safeguards to support those affected to recover any damages.”

Meanwhile, the House of Lords’ European Affairs committee warned on Thursday that the rollback of EU regulations could lead to the “Windrush” scandal, where UK Commonwealth citizens who arrived before 1973 were wrongfully denied legal rights or deported by the Home Office. .

In the letter, the committee asked Home Secretary Suella Braverman to provide an update on the number of EUSS applications awaiting decision.

It urged Braverman to clarify whether people whose programs are being changed have access to benefits and can apply for important documents such as driver’s licenses.

The Home Office said: “EU citizens are our friends and neighbours, and we take our responsibility to secure their rights in the UK very seriously. The EU’s permanent settlement goes beyond what we have to do under the Withdrawal Agreement, to protect the rights of EU citizens and give them a permanent home in the UK.

“It has been very successful because about 5.6mn people have been given the title. The digital environment is fast and easy to share, with the help of subscribers, many of whom have never experienced technical problems when using our services.”

Additional reporting by Jasmine Cameron-Chileshe in London

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