Guy Verhofstadt sparks fury as he accuses UK of ‘harassing’ EU citizens – ‘Stop!’
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The Belgian MEP shared the news on Twitter that Home Secretary Priti Patel is considering withdrawing the UK from the European Social Charter. The 1961 accord of 27 European states grants discounts to healthcare, charity and seasonal workers.
The move would see citizens from most EU states having to pay an extra £55 for UK work visas, as well as a £199 foreign worker sponsorship fee.
Commenting to the proposal, Mr Verhofstadt wrote: “After the border detentions and fingerprinting now this.
“There seems to be no end to the desire of the British government to harass European citizens…”
Whilst some expressed solidarity to the Belgian politician’s sentiment, the tweet infuriated others.
One replied: “But it’s fine for the EU to harass the people of Northern Ireland? As you point out, we are a third country now…so things will change.”
And another said: “You have been harassing us for years!”
A third added: “How easy does the EU make it for Turkish citizens to migrate into Europe?
“Every sovereign nation has immigration controls. Try moving to Japan or Australia.”
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Others were prompt to point out the UK would be simply be following the rules it already applies to citizens of non-EU countries arriving to Britain.
One person said: “It’s only treating EU citizens equally with citizens from other countries.
“My friend just returned from Ghent (Belgium) and she’s been treated like a third class citizen.”
Another one mocked: “I think that’s called a ‘level playing field’ Guy.
“That’s what you demanded, remember?
“You can’t ‘have your cake and eat it’.”
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And, another said: “These changes align EU citizen fees with the rest of the globe. Why should there be preferential treatment for EU citizens?”
Others called Mr Verhofstadt out on his relentless attempts to spark fears among EU citizens at the hands of British people.
One said: “We’ll still having plenty of professional Europeans coming to this country. Scaremongering and hypocrisy is all part of the EU’s DNA.”
A non-British user even warned: “Stop this kind of demagogic remarks to our British neighbours. It is damaging for the relation with them.”
It comes after Britain has been warned against detaining EU citizens who arrive for a job interview or fall foul of post-Brexit immigration rules.
Italy said a recent spate of detentions of EU nationals by UK border officials was not “acceptable”.
Italian undersecretary for foreign affairs Benedetto Della Vedova raised the issue with immigration minister Kevin Foster on a recent visit to London.
Mr Della Vedova told the Politico website: “We made it clear to the Home Office and to minister Foster that we don’t consider acceptable what happened, and we hope that in the future cases like these will be treated in a different manner.”
His remarks came after a number of recent cases where EU citizens were detained and held in immigration centres after attempting to enter the UK.
It was said they either had arrived in the country without visas, residence status or were travelling for job interviews.
Last month, the Home Office announced it had told border officials to stop transferring people detained without work visas to immigration centres while travel remains disrupted during the pandemic.
People should instead be granted bail “where appropriate”, allowing them to remain in the country under specific conditions until they can fly back to their country of origin.
Mr Della Vedova claimed he had been told by his UK counterpart that EU citizens “won’t be put in cells again”.
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