The EU Settlement Scheme: The greatest story never told?

With the looming deadline of 30 June 2021 for EU citizens in the UK to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme (EUSS), the scheme under which they are permitted to stay in the UK post-Brexit, the EUSS is once more very much in the spotlight.

  • The terms of the EU Settlement Scheme are very generous in giving EU citizens the right to stay in the UK permanently, both absolutely and in comparison with the EU freedom of movement regime.
  • However, those EU citizens that do not successfully apply through the EUSS will suffer serious consequences. Their cases will need careful and sensitive attention by the Home Office.
  • Much has been said about the operation of the EUSS, but little about the context. Yet the context is remarkable; a country that in 2016 voted to leave the EU in part over EU migration is now offering permanent residency to more than 5 million EU nationals, some of whom were not entitled to permanently stay here before that vote. Even more remarkable, this is being done without a murmur of dissent.
  • At the same time, the opportunities for non-EU migrant workers to not only come to the UK, but to stay here, have been significantly expanded as part of the Brexit reforms to the UK’s immigration regime.
  • All while the salience of immigration as a matter of concern to the British public has dropped to levels not seen since the turn of the millennium. This is unlikely to last.
  • But for now, after all the convulsions of the EU Referendum and the Brexit process, the UK has loudly taken back control to rather quietly set out a sensible compromise on immigration which the majority of the country can feel comfortable with, and, perhaps most importantly, not spend its whole time talking about.

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