CFAB Webinar: The impact of the UK's EU departure on child protection and the end of the EU Settlement Scheme

July 2021

On 7th July, Children and Families Across Borders held an event for staff working in consulates in the UK. The webinar addressed the questions that consular colleagues have on the impact of the UK’s departure from the EU on child protection issues. The audience, who consisted of more than 25 consular staff who represented countries around the world, heard from two experts on the impact of the end of the EU Settlement Scheme and on the implications of the transition to the Hague Convention. Participants were able to ask questions and discuss some of the unique challenges facing consulates during the UK’s departure, a conversation that was expertly facilitated by Dr David Jones who is a member of the British Association of Social Worker’s Board and a trustee of CFAB. 

The participants heard from two speakers, one of whom was CFAB’s own Maria Wright, our Senior Legal Adviser, who gave a helpful and considered overview of the transition from Brussels IIa to the Hague Convention for all Care proceedings with a European Dimension. We were also delighted to be joined by the Greater Manchester Immigration Aid Unit, whose Service Manager, Maria Houlihan, provided an in-depth explanation of the impact of the end of the EU Settlement Scheme. 

This event was particularly timely as, 7 days earlier, the European Union's Settlement Scheme had ended. Statistics from the Home Office state that 3,300 looked after children & care leavers are eligible to apply, and organisations such as the Children's Society believes this is an underestimate. So far, only 1,520 applications to the EUSS have been received, meaning many European young people may face losing legal residency in the UK. Furthermore, the regulations governing care proceedings changed on 1st January 2021, with all Care proceedings with a European Dimension now governed by the 1996 Hague Convention, rather than Brussels IIa. 

Both the end of the EU Settlement Scheme and the move to the Hague Convention have a significant impact on the vital work our consular colleagues do to protect children on the move between the UK and EU member states. CFAB is always keen to build stronger relationships with consulates and embassies across the world and we hope that this event has provided an opportunity for consular staff to learn more about international child protection and CFAB’s work. We are also excited to announce that, given the success of the event, we will be working with our excellent facilitator Dr David Jones to deliver the webinar again at the Blue Sky Thinking Festival on August 11th. 

To support consular colleagues, CFAB has produced a Guide on the issues covered in the webinar which is available to anyone interested in learning more about the issue.