Editorial del “Mundo”. Italian, Spanish or French au pairs arrested when they got off the plane at Heathrow or Gatwick and placed in a detention center, then sent back to their country. Poles, Bulgarians and Romanians were also forced to turn around because they were suspected of looking for work. For citizens of the European Union (EU), Brexit now seems like a relentless customs post.
In the first quarter alone, 3,294 of them were rejected at a UK border, six times more than in the same period in 2020. Since the implementation of Brexit, 1it is January, to work and, a fortiori, to settle in the United Kingdom requires a visa that is issued only to holders of a job offer that proposes a salary of at least 2,500 euros per month.
This abolition of free movement and installation, which is the prerogative of the citizens of the European Union, is a direct result of the British decision to leave the EU. This is all the less surprising given that the end of this freedom was the first argument put forward by Brexit supporters during the 2016 referendum. Boris Johnson had echoed the far right’s demand for border closures, including Europeans. , the campaign manager, in the form of a successful slogan “Let’s regain control” from our borders.
While Europeans applying for a job in the UK are at the mercy of the mood of a British customs officer, other EU citizens, already established across the Channel, have had to present a lot of documents to get the job. “resident” status. More than 300,000 cases, out of the 5.4 million applicants, have yet to be decided as the June 30 deadline approaches. Hundreds of thousands of expatriate Europeans risk finding themselves in an uncertain legal situation.
Pawns on the British political spectrum
That the nationals of neighboring countries, united by history, geography and decades of free movement, find themselves in such a precarious situation should not please any European citizen. Neither those of the EU, who have not asked for anything, nor the British, whose freedom to move and settle on the continent is symmetrically restricted. The average European now experiences both the humiliations suffered by immigrants who knock on the door of a hostile country and the political instrumentalization of their situation.
Because European “immigrants” in the UK are primarily pawns on the British political spectrum and bargaining chip in the great Brexit showdown that continues. The mistreatment of Europeans delighted much of Johnson’s electorate, who knew how to play it perfectly. It also looks a lot like a message sent by your government to the Twenty-seven, while huge political and economic disputes (Northern Ireland, financial services, fishing) remain on the table.
The experience of Europeans in the United Kingdom is a concrete example of the immense regression that Brexit represents, which recreates forgotten barriers between economic actors and between citizens. The European Union has no reason to be intimidated by such maneuvers or to allow its citizens to be intimidated. You should not accept that UK visa tax differs, as it does, between EU countries. Don’t take advantage of a pernicious “local xenophobia” that returns Europe to its old demons.
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