A majority of the EU27 do not plan to force UK nationals living within their borders to register for a special residency status after Brexit, in contrast to the UK government’s treatment of EU nationals.
An initial meeting of officials and diplomats in Brussels on the treatment of UK nationals post-Brexit found a mood in favour of a “smooth and simple” approach.
Governments across Europe have different approaches to dealing with foreign EU nationals who move to live in their country, with some encouraging or demanding registration.
Many in the meeting on Friday expressed the view that imposing an additional mandatory system on British nationals in their country would prove an unnecessary complication and expense.
Britons who move to EU countries before the post-Brexit transition period ends on 31 December 2020 will be granted rights similar to those available today, although with some gaps, including the right to onward movement between member states.
The UK has opted to set up a new system for resident EU nationals, under which applicants will be charged £72 each. The former home secretary Amber Rudd vowed it would be as simple as setting up a shopping account with the high-end retailer LK Bennett.
It subsequently emerged that the app for the system would not work on iPhones, a brand used by more than half of the adult population in the UK.
Ingrid Taylor, 61, a translator who has lived in Germany for 30 years and who is a member of the lobby group British in Europe, said her fellow Britons abroad were keen to avoid unnecessary paperwork.
“We need some kind of document to show that we have rights but it should be a declaratory system, not a long application that people have to fill out,” she said. “That will bring all sorts of problems and pitfalls, as we have seen with the 85-page permanent residence application form in the UK.”
Of the 27 member states represented in the meeting in Brussels on Friday, about 10 were minded to establish a system similar to the UK’s with 17 were opposed, according to EU sources.
Of those with the most UK nationals, Spain said it was undecided and representatives for France did not share their thoughts. Germany said it was undecided but was leaning towards an obligatory system for Britons, in order for the government to be able to recognise people conferred with rights under the withdrawal agreement and those not.
The European commission proposed a uniform set of identification documents to be made available for UK nationals who make their home in the EU before the end of the transition period. A follow-up meeting on the issue is expected in September.