MEPs urge von der Leyen to tackle UK immigration detention of EU nationals
Holding EU nationals in UK immigration centers breaches ‘the spirit of good cooperation’ expected from Britain after Brexit, Romanian MEPs say.
LONDON — A group of MEPs urged European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen to press the U.K. to stop holding EU nationals in immigration centers.
At least 30 EU nationals from Germany, Greece, Italy, Spain and Romania have been 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 revealed by POLITICO last week. The Commission said Monday this was a “consular issue” but expressed “concern” over the conditions and length of detention, which in some cases was four days or more.
But in a letter dated Wednesday, eight Romanian MEPs from the Renew Europe group called on von der Leyen and Commission Vice President Maroš Šefčovič to do more. The Commission should demand clarity from the U.K. government on the number of EU nationals detained at the borders and the reasons for adopting such measures, they wrote.
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,” added the lawmakers, who include former Romanian Prime Minister Dacian Cioloș and MEP Alin Mituța.
They also described the length and conditions of these centers as reported by some of those EU citizens as “serious impediments in establishing a fruitful relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom.”
According to these MEPs, “the detention of often young and low risk EU citizens arriving in the UK for summer jobs and not being yet fully aware of new entry conditions” breaches “the spirit of good cooperation that we would expect” after Brexit.
“We strongly believe that protection of the rights of both EU and UK citizens is a fundamental element of our EU-UK relation, as recognised also by the Withdrawal Agreement and we expect the Commission and the UK to act accordingly,” they wrote.
Responding to the group’s criticisms Thursday, U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson’s official spokesperson said: “We are cooperating in very much in the spirit and the terms of the agreements that we have with our EU partners and we will continue to do so.”