MEPs say the Commission has assured them that it will press London on detentions of EU citizens at the UK border.
LONDON — The European Commission will raise the recent detentions of EU nationals at U.K. airports on immigration grounds with the British government at a coming meeting, MEPs said.
At least 30 EU nationals from Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Romania have been detained at U.K. airports and held in immigration removal centers after being identified by U.K. border officials as intending to work in the country without a work visa, as POLITICO revealed last week.
Some of the individuals affected said they were detained after telling border officials that they were traveling to attend a job interview, something they are allowed to do without a visa.
Dacian Cioloș, a former Romanian prime minister who is now an MEP, said Friday that Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič told him in a phone call Wednesday that he will include this issue in his next meeting with British authorities, which will be a gathering of the EU-U.K. Joint Committee, a body overseeing the U.K.’s withdrawal from the EU.
Cioloș is one of eight MEPs from the Renew Europe group who recently called on the Commission to address the issue of the detentions.
In a letter sent to Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and Šefčovič on Wednesday, the eight MEPs wrote that the Commission should demand clarity from the U.K. government over the number of EU nationals detained at the border and the reasons behind the detentions. Brussels should also press London “to refrain from adopting such disproportionate measures on EU citizens and instead follow a more reasonable approach based on good faith and cooperation,” they wrote.
Hours after sending the letter, Cioloș called Šefčovič to ensure it had been received, a spokesman for the Romanian delegation of MEPs told POLITICO.
“Mr Šefčovič told him that the letter was being taken very seriously and that he had already spoken with the EU ambassador to the U.K. in order to ask the U.K. counterparts about the issue. Mr Šefčovič told Mr Cioloș that he will include this in the agenda of the next discussion he will have with the U.K. authorities in about one week,” he said.
At least five Romanians have been detained in immigration removal centers in the U.K. and over 150 denied entry at the U.K. border since January, according to figures from the Romanian Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
In a tweet Friday, Cioloș expressed his gratitude to Šefčovič for “agreeing to raise the issue of the detainment of EU nationals with UK authorities.”
The Commission is yet to reply formally to the letter, and did not confirm the content of the phone conversation between the two politicians. A Commission spokesperson pointed to its latest statement on the topic, issued Monday, expressing “concern” over the conditions and length of detention, which in some cases was four days or more, and said this was a “consular issue.”
Meanwhile, the watchdog for EU citizens’ rights in post-Brexit Britain, the Independent Monitoring Authority (IMA), said Friday it had requested information from the U.K. Home Office on this issue earlier this week in a bid to find out if any EU nationals with rights to reside in Britain after Brexit had been detained by mistake. The IMA was established in January to oversee the U.K.’s implementation of the citizens’ rights provisions in the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement.
“We are aware of this issue, it was brought to our attention early this week,” said Pam Everett, director of operational delivery at the IMA. “We have seen the press reports and had other conversations about this issue … We are trying to understand from the Home Office what’s happening and yes, of course, we are concerned. This is not a good position to be in.”
Everett encouraged any EU citizens affected by a situation like this to raise it with their consulate in the U.K. and consider making a complaint directly to the Home Office and to the IMA itself. However, she noted that the watchdog can only address cases concerning EU nationals who settled in Britain before the end of the Brexit transition on December 31, 2020.
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Source: POLITICO https://www.politico.eu/article/commission-expected-to-raise-detentions-of-eu-nationals-with-uk/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS&utm_campaign=RSS_Syndication