EU citizens soon will no longer be able to prove their rights simply by showing a document. Give 3.7 million EU citizens physical proof of their right to live and work in the UK.

First published in September 2020.

The new, digital-only proof of status excludes big sections of the millions of EU citizens who have made the UK their home.

EU citizens are being given a new status to continue living lawfully in the UK. The Government has decided to make our status digital-only, without a physical backup for people and circumstances where digital does not yet work. This will create barriers to opportunity and wellbeing for many EU citizens – these barriers will start to trip them up from next year:

  • Discrimination: only 3 in 150 landlords said they would be prepared to do these digital checks
  • System outage at a critical time
  • More bureaucracy: the digital check has many moving parts. If any one of them fails, the whole fails.
  • Being left behind: Many can’t navigate digital-only

The digital check has many moving parts and if anyone of them fails, it all fails.

the3milllion, the EU citizens’ rights group, wants to ensure that no EU citizen will face problems staying, re-entering, working, finding housing and accessing education and essential services, due to a lengthy online process of which the functioning is not always guaranteed. Let’s not forget that around 22% of people do not have the Essential Digital Skills required for dealing with this process.

The UK government’s own assessment concluded that digital-only would cause serious issues for many and that a physical backup should be retained for now:

Prove your right to work. / – Government Digital Service

While the world inevitably becomes more digital, we need to make sure that those who struggle or face problems do not fall through the cracks in the meantime.

Few of us have experienced the terror of not having access to something that proves our fundamental right to have healthcare, work or rent a flat. Millions of people could be in this situation from 2021 if we don’t act now and convince the government to change course.

Give those who want a physical proof of their right to live and work in the UK.

The Government has so far rejected all requests for physical proof. That’s why we ordinary EU citizens and our British supporters and friends, decided to start this UK wide campaign to get a physical proof of our status we can hold in our hands.   The Government only needs to expand its existing system – a system that gives physical proof of status to non-EU people – to EU citizens.

We don’t want a two-tier society developing in the UK: British and Non-EU citizens who can prove their right to work and access healthcare anytime, anywhere, simply by showing a physical card or passport – and EU citizens who cannot.

HERE IS THE PLAN – Convince the government to give EU citizens a safety net when digital fails.

We have already got some traction with our campaign – our lobbying lead to the Johnson government’s first defeat in the Lords who passed an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill that would have required EU citizens to be given a physical status document to prove their right to rent property and work in the UK.

The Guardian

The amendment was voted down but we now have another chance to change the government’s mind. As it stands, MPs will vote down any amendment to the immigration bill this September.

Help us to get a Government U-turn on their digital-only plan in three weeks’ time

Our job is to convince enough of the Lords and MPs to vote for the amendment on physical documents and we have three weeks to do this:

  • By informing and mobilising local communities and recruiting volunteers
  • Supporting people in key constituencies to go and see their MP
  • Running a media awareness campaign including targeted, paid-for social media ads and organising media appearances
  • Educating and lobbying MPs, businesses and other stakeholders
  • Building a network of allies and stakeholders, e.g. Age UK, Mind, Children’s Society
  • Running webinars using Zoom
  • Gathering more evidence from businesses and people affected – a credible poll costs an estimated £3.5k
  • Producing and disseminating accessible information material, and much more!

All of this costs money.

With your help we can give EU citizens the backup they so desperately need and shield them from discrimination and heartache.

Who we are

the3million is the leading organisation of EU citizens and we have been voted one of the Big Issue’s Top Changemakers in the world – “awe-inspiring people and organisations who we believe are changing the world in significant ways and giving us all hope for the future.”

Home is where you feel like home. The UK has become our home. That’s why this campaign is so close to our heart. We are not only Europeans, we are also Brits and together we are campaigning for a future where we can thrive together and no one is left behind.

Our success depends on you – if the money’s not raised on here, our arguments won’t get the traction they need to convince politicians.

If you agree that it is unacceptable in a modern democracy to single out one group of people and have their every interaction with society logged into a database please SUPPORT US.🔷

[This piece was originally published in the3million crowdfunder and re-published in PMP Magazine on 4 September 2020, with the author’s consent. | The author writes in a personal capacity.]

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(Cover: Twitter/@the3million. / Licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.)

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