European Parliament legislators are “deeply concerned” at reports the U.K. may seek to process EU citizens applying for post-Brexit settled status in alphabetical order, with the assembly’s Brexit coordinator branding the approach worthy of a “budget airline.”
In a joint statement the European Parliament’s Brexit steering group said that such an approach would be “complicated, arbitrary and could create unnecessary confusion and uncertainty for millions.”
The Parliament’s Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt said: “We need a simple, efficient and fair process, not one a budget airline would be proud of.”
According to a Business Insider report, officials are considering a plan to process the more than three million anticipated applicants in “bite-size chunks” based on the first letter of their surname.
All EU citizens who have lived in the U.K. for more than five years, and their family members, will be eligible to apply for settled status, allowing them to continue to live and work in the U.K. indefinitely. Those who have lived in the U.K. for less than that time will be able to apply for a “pre-settled status” which can be upgraded once they reach the five-year threshold.
The application scheme will have a phased launch later this year, before full rollout in March 2019. It will remain open during the post-Brexit transition period — that was agreed provisionally earlier this year — and for six months thereafter, closing in June 2021. Applicants for pre-settled status must have begun living in the U.K. before the end of the transition period — December 31, 2020.
But in a statement issued on Thursday afternoon, the parliament’s steering group claimed that an alphabetical approach to prioritizing applications would mean “those at the end of the alphabet may not get their status confirmed until the end of 2020 or later.” This would be “intolerable and contrary to the spirit of the assurances we have previously received,” they added.