The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group and MEPs from five committees in charge of citizens’ rights met with representatives of the UK Home Office to discuss the registration of European Union citizens living in the UK after Brexit. An online application system was launched to register some 3.5m EU citizens.

In a letter to the Home Office Secretary of State Sajid Javid, MEPs suggest that particular attention should be paid to vulnerable groups. They recommend that citizens should be able to register in paper format and that there should be a network of contact points across the country where passports can be scanned in a secure environment.

“In a spirit of collaboration, MEPs have today set out a number of proposals in order to ensure the registration of EU citizens in the UK is dealt with in an efficient, flexible, timely and sensitive manner,” said Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator. “In light of the Windrush scandal and given the large numbers of citizens affected, both the EU and the UK must work together to get this right.”

Verhofstadt also stressed it is important that the registration process should, as a matter of principle, be cost-free for applicants.

“It is unacceptable that citizens who were never consulted on Brexit should have to pay large fees to retain their own rights,” he said.

“We look forward to knowing more about how the independent authority overseeing the system will operate, what its competence will be and how its independence will be ensured,” added Verhofstadt. “It remains a priority for the European Parliament to ensure that citizens, whether the UK citizens in the EU or EU citizens in the UK, can continue to lead their lives as they do now.”

According to a European Parliament press release, MEPs recommended that all citizens should be able to access the application system, including ID scanning (for older passports, children that need biometric passports, users of IOS operating system). The procedure should avoid passports being sent in the post. It should include an option to register members of the same family together on one form. Full compliance with EU data protection regulations should be ensured, they added.