European Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič on Sunday warned the UK government against “unilateral actions” such as holding EU citizens in detention centers, and urged London and Brussels to “calm down” and to “focus on the future”.
The media report that “European citizens are being held in holding cells or having their fingerprints taken just because they wanted to visit the UK, it doesn’t help the atmosphere,” Šefčovič told Andrew Marr BBC Show.
POLITICO recently reported that 30 EU citizens had been detained and detained in removal centers after attempting to enter the UK to work there without visas or residency status.
They included nationals from Germany, Greece, Italy, Romania and Spain who had been detained at the British border and detained for up to seven days before being returned to their countries of origin.
“I think what we need in our EU-UK relations is more … cooperation, a joint approach and not unilateral actions, because I think that would further deteriorate our relations”, efčovič told Marr.
“We have to calm down, focus on how we are going to solve the problems and focus on the future,” he added.
During the show, Šefčovič had a verbal fight with Edwin Poots, the newly elected leader of the main British Protestant party in Northern Ireland, the Democratic Unionists.
Poots demands the cancellation of the Irish protocol to the Brexit trade deal, which creates a new trade border for goods shipped to Northern Ireland from the rest of the UK
Poots warned that Northern Ireland faces a potentially violent summer of unionist street protests unless the EU relaxes the protocol’s requirement for full application of EU customs and health controls on goods from Great Britain.
efčovič said the obvious solution would be for the UK and the EU to agree on common veterinary standards, which would eliminate the need for controls on animal and plant products, accounting for four-fifths of Northern Ireland’s imports from from Great Britain.
On Saturday, Šefčovič gave an interview to the Financial Times where he warned the UK of the growing impatience of EU countries over Northern Ireland’s trade issues and other post-Brexit issues.
“All of these solutions come from our side,” Šefčovič told the FT. “It’s pretty clear that if we don’t see positive developments, the atmosphere would be sour … The political environment would be much more difficult.”
Since Brexit, EU citizens are not allowed to enter the UK to work there unless they have a work visa or the status of the EU Settlement Program, which guarantees the right to stay for those who lived in Great Britain before leaving the EU.
EU nationals can enter Britain without a tourist visa and stay for up to 180 days. UK border forces have the right to deny entry to EU nationals if officials have reasonable grounds to suspect that they intend to work in the country but cannot produce a work visa.
Shawn Pogatchnik contributed reporting.