By Tanya Kriplani Manglani
Due to COVID-19 being the new normal and taking up most of the current news and media landscape, there are some issues which have taken a backseat.
The effects of the UK leaving the EU are going to start being applicable in daily life starting on the 1st of January 2021, and though there is a lack of public conversation around this topic, it does not mean that the concerns surrounding it are being swept under the rug.
One major concern is that of EU nationals that live in the UK.
THE EUROPEAN UNION SETTLEMENT SCHEME
In 2019, the British Government announced the European Union Settlement Scheme - under this scheme, EU nationals who have and will start living in the UK before the 31st of December are eligible to receive either ‘settled status’ or ‘pre-settled status’ depending on how long they have resided in the country. This status allows them to stay in the UK and enjoy essentially the same rights they do currently, before Brexit has come into effect, with one slight modification - the need to prove your status.
SO, WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
The problem, according to an EU citizens group called the3million, lies with the system through which EU nationals will need to prove their aforementioned status from 2021 onwards - the system in question is completely online.
As Maike Bohn, founder of the3million, points out, the ability to prove one’s identity has become a fundamental - without it, it is possible for one to be denied jobs, housing, and a number of universal rights.
According to Bohn, therefore, the ability to prove one’s identity is in itself a “fundamental human right”, and she argues that the fact that EU nationals are going to have to rely on a completely digital system in order to prove their settlement status threatens that right.
WHAT SHOULD BE DONE?
That is why the3million have launched their “Access Denied” campaign, contending that EU citizens living in the UK cannot be expected to rely solely on a system that is completely online to be working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, in order to prove the identity that is needed to give them access to almost everything. They are instead calling for physical ID’s to be issued, or at the very least, for physical backups of the online database to be made in case any issues arise in the digital system.
Other organizations have corroborated the group’s concerns – the Residential Landlord Association, for example, warn that EU nationals’ inability to provide immediate physical proof of their status will lead to an increase in discrimination against them, as it could potentially make landlords and employers reluctant to rent properties or offer jobs to them.