Northern Ireland 'haven't got Brexit' says Baroness Hoey
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This is despite their rights being guaranteed in theory by the withdrawal agreement Britain agreed with Brussels. Under its terms Britons already living in Europe, and European’s resident in Britain, were supposed to have their rights protected after Brexit.
However speaking to The Times Jeremy Morgan, from pressure group British in Italy, said many Italian officials are unaware of what rights British residents are supposed to have.
He said: “We are often treated like third-country migrants from outside the EU and are asked for the number of the permesso di soggiorno document [residency permit] which those immigrants have.
“The problem is that we did not need to have that document when the UK was in the EU and now we can’t get it because of the withdrawal agreement.
“People have been stopped by police who demand to see their permesso di soggiorno, which they don’t have.
“A British man in Puglia was told by an employer that his contract could not be renewed because the labour ministry’s computer would not accept his application without a document number.”
Mr Morgan said Italian and British authorities have been trying to help but the process has been slow.
To help solve the problem last December the Italian government introduced optional identity cards for British residents, called carta di soggiorno, that are widely recognised by authorities.
However Mr Morgan said: “The problem is that some people ringing their local police station to get the card have been given appointments in August.
“It took them half an hour to take mine in Perugia and two and a half hours to process the seven of us who were there.
“We are relying on a card we shouldn’t need and which does not fully exist yet it’s Kafkaesque.
“Italy is keen to be on our side but is being slow to fix things.”
Whilst Britain formally left the EU at the end of January 2020 it remained in a Brexit transition period until the end of the year.
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During this time the UK was closely tied to the bloc continuing to pay into the Brussels budget and implement many EU made laws.
Britons living in EU members, and EU nationals in the UK, continued to enjoy most of the rights they had before Brexit.
However that ended on December 31 when Britain left the Brexit transition period and began trading with Europe based on a new trade deal negotiated by Boris Johnson.
Italian MP Massimo Ungaro spoke up for British expats in parliament earlier this month.
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He said: “This is causing serious discomfort for over 60,000 British citizens resident in Italy.”
Mr Ungaro urged the Italian government to make sure “agreements made with the UK are respected so as to prevent these people from having to pay for Brexit a second time”.
Britons living in France have until June to apply for either a residency permit or French citizenship.
Thus far 120,623 expats have made permit applications which will be required from October.
However according to Brian Jones, from UK expat group Hear our Voice, there are concerns some Britons have yet to make an application.
Speaking to The Times he said: “We are especially concerned for the more vulnerable people who are maybe thinking, ‘Does it really matter [if I get a residency permit]? Should I bother?”
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