The Prime Minister has unveiled proposals for EU nationals who have lived in the UK for five years by a specific cut-off date to be given the chance to take up ‘UK settled status’.
However, the British Veterinary Association, the UK’s leading body for the veterinary profession – which each year sees around 50% of vets registering to practise in the UK coming from overseas, mostly the EU – says the Prime Minister’s proposals fall short of providing the certainty that EU vets and vet nurses living and working in the UK deserve.
British Veterinary Association President Gudrun Ravetz said: “Our EU colleagues play a crucial role in helping the UK maintain animal health, animal welfare, and public health for the rest of society too. Earlier this week the Defra Secretary of State rightly acknowledged the importance of EU vets to the UK economy, from food hygiene and safety to monitoring disease outbreaks and facilitating trade. The veterinary profession is relatively small, so the loss of even a small percentage of the workforce would have a significant impact. The time has come for the Government to provide clear guarantees and stop using people as bargaining chips.
“BVA has called for all EU vets and vet nurses currently working in the UK to be guaranteed living and working rights. At this stage, the Prime Minister’s outline proposal leaves too many questions unanswered and we hope the full details, due to be released on Monday, offer something more concrete. The EU referendum has already had a serious effect on EU colleagues, who have been teetering on a knife-edge for 12 months now.”
Figures recently released by the Royal College of Veterinary Surgeons, the veterinary profession’s regulator, show 44% of EU vets living in the UK are fearful about what the future holds. Two in five vets are saying they are now more likely to leave, and 18% are actively looking for work outside the UK
The outline proposal does not indicate whether individuals with settled status will be permitted to bring in children or spouses, and whether the new status will be subject to conditions other than length of residency.