Czech and Slovak nationals living in Manchester met in Salford this week for a meeting about their rights following Brexit. 

The event, which was held in The Salford Arms on Monday evening, included a presentation by an immigration lawyer and an EU information officer. The presentation consisted of information about the EU settlement scheme and the rights of EU nationals.

The EU citizens were able to ask the two speakers about any questions and uncertainties they have in regards to living in the UK post-Brexit. The meeting was organised by Martina Abid, the admin of Czechoslavakia Manchester, a facebook page for Czech and Slovak people living in Manchester. Martina says that the purpose of the meeting is for people to better understand what rights they have as EU citizens if they remain as residents in the UK. Abid says she organised the event because “everyone is confused about what is going on and no one really knows anything”.

David Pountney giving the presentation.

Similar events have been held around the country in an attempt to inform people on what to expect once the UK leave the European Union. The European Commission have arranged for representatives to attend meetings organised by various cultural groups, like Czechoslovakia Manchester, to offer question and answer style presentations. Elisabeth Sweeney from the European Parliament Information Office says they are ensuring that EU citizens “still have a voice and they will still be able to shape the future of the Europe they will still be belonging to”.

“Our role from the parliament side is to encourage EU nationals that are residents in the UK to think about taking part in the European Parliament elections.”

Leaflets outlining the rights of nationals from different EU member states.

The various countries within the EU have different rules about how their citizens can vote in the European Parliament elections which are taking place on 23 May until 26 may of this year.

“Unfortunately for example, for the Czech people, if they’re a resident in the UK, their national government doesn’t allow them to take part in European elections back home.”

Countries such as Italy and Poland allow their citizens to come home to vote, while Germany and Lithuania are among those that offer their citizens postal votes.

Immigration lawyer, David Pountney, was at The Salford Arms to inform people about the EU Settlement Scheme that launched on Monday. The EU settlement scheme allows EU citizens to stay in the UK after 30 June 2021. There is an estimated 3.5 million EU nationals living in the UK at the moment, all of whom will have to apply for the scheme by 21 December 2020. Irish citizens and those with indefinite leave to remain in the UK are exempt from the scheme.

David Pountney says:

“A lot of people just don’t know what is going on. The messages from the media are very confusing.

For any EU nationals and their family members it is important to stay up to date with what is going on. The Home Office website does have a lot of information, and you can sign up for email alerts for when things are changing, so I would recommend that.”

Around 20 events have been organised throughout the country. One was held in Bury at the end of last year. The next event will take place in the Estonian Embassy in London in the coming week.

You can listen to the full interviews with Elisabeth Sweeney and David Pountney here:

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