the3million was founded immediately after the Brexit referendum. In its early phase, the3million fought to make sure that EU citizens’ rights were top of the political agenda. Together with British in Europe, who represent our friends across the Channel facing our mirrored problems, we campaigned relentlessly in both Westminster and Brussels.
At every stage of the EU-UK negotiations we advocated and informed - supplying position papers backed by lawyers and academics. We had many meetings at all levels of the EU Parliament, Commission, Council, UK Government and many Member State governments.
As the Withdrawal Agreement was finalised, we continued our campaigning to demand ringfencing of citizens’ rights in the case of no deal, and to seek key changes to the EU Settlement Scheme.
Going forward, it is becoming painfully clear that much of our work ahead will lie in legal challenges to secure and preserve citizens' rights.
To date, the3million has launched three judicial reviews.
Denied my Backup - lack of physical proof of status
When EEA/Swiss citizens are granted pre-settled or settled status, they are not issued with a physical proof of status, instead they have to use an online system whenever they need to prove their UK rights to anyone.
In February 2021, we launched a Judicial Review to challenge the Government to address the discrimination of some of the most vulnerable members of our society, including the elderly, people with disabilities and Romas.
The High Court refused permission for the case to be heard. The judge held that the claim is ‘premature’ because EU citizens will only be required to rely on the digital only system from 1 July 2021. This is a disappointing outcome. Nonetheless, despite not winning in court, we think that bringing the claim was worthwhile. We have done everything we can to support vulnerable EU citizens and, in doing so, we have put the Home Office on notice that we are willing to litigate on their behalf when it is necessary to do so. This will hold the Home Office’s feet to the fire and ensure due attention is paid to the effects of the scheme following the end of the grace period. More information is given on crowdjustice.
See https://www.the3million.org.uk/how-does-digital-status-work for more information on our long-running campaign for a physical backup.
Immigration exemption from the Data Protection Bill
The Data Protection Act 2018 contains an immigration exemption clause that creates a two-tier system of data protection rights with lesser rights for immigrants. It has emerged that the Government has used this controversial exemption in response to 60% of its immigration-related data requests.
the3million, together with Open Rights Group, launched a Judicial Review in August 2018, with your support. The case was heard in July 2019, dismissed in October 2019, but brought to the court of appeal in February 2021.
In May 2021, the court of appeal unanimously found that the UK immigration exemption is unlawful, excessive and wrong. The judgment is a huge win for the Open Rights Group, the3million and their legal team at Leigh Day.
A further hearing will determine what legal steps will be taken to fix the unlawfulness of the exemption.
#DeniedMyVote – European Elections 2019
On the 23rd May 2019, thousands of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens abroad were denied their vote in the European Elections. Our amazing supporters backed us in three major fundraisers to explore the options for a joint legal challenge with British in Europe, to develop the case, and finally to prepare for a full judicial review hearing once permission was granted.
The case was heard in January 2021, and we were deeply disappointed to hear in February 2021 that the High Court had dismissed our claim. We find it hard to reconcile the findings in the judgment with what happened to us in 2019. However, EU citizens are facing a growing set of challenges, and despite losing one legal battle, our broader fight for citizens’ rights continues.