In a statement to Politico, the Commission said it wants to ensure British residents living in the EU have a “simple, uniform” physical document proving their residence status. The document will be issued by the country in which the applicant resides, and will only be valid for use after the Brexit transition period ends at the end of the year.
“Protecting the rights of EU and U.K. citizens has been one of our main priorities since the beginning of the negotiations with the U.K.,” the Commission said.
The roughly 1.2 million British people currently living in the EU — and any Britons moving to an EU member country this year — can request the document, though under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, it is up to each individual country in the EU to decide whether they will require British nationals to obtain a document that proves their rights to residence under Brexit.
A diplomat commenting on the matter said the thinking in Brussels is that a physical card would be an easier way for holders to prove their status than would be a digital certificate, due partly to the fact that it will resemble existing residency permits for other third-country nationals already in use.
“It is of course almost the same as the standard format for third-country national documents but specifies that our status derives from the Withdrawal Agreement,” said Jane Golding, co-chair of the campaign group British in Europe.
Though identity and residence cards are a common feature in most EU countries, the U.K. government issues digital identification proof to EU citizens living in Britain, a decision that has been criticized for making it harder for some to prove their identity when required, potentially exposing them to discrimination by banks and landlords.
Former U.K. Immigration Minister Caroline Nokes defended the decision to use digital identification instead of physical cards, saying that physical cards “must be renewed, are often lost and are easier to forge.”
She went on to say that digital identification is more secure, and allows for EU citizens to better protect their personal data.
March 9, 2020 – by Tony Bitzionis