Following our recent article on the draft Withdrawal Agreement and Political Declaration for Irish and British nationals in the Common Travel Area, we now look at the draft proposals regarding the rights of EU citizens in the UK and EU citizens living in the UK going forward under a deal based scenario.
Articles 9 to 39 of the Draft Withdrawal Agreement deal with citizen’s rights. From our analysis of the proposed draft, it is clear that maintaining the rights of all UK/EU citizens going forward is paramount. At present approximately 3.8 million EU citizens reside in the UK, and approximately 1.3 million UK nationals live in EU member countries. The terms of the Withdrawal Agreement safeguard the right of individuals to live in and continue their current activities in the respective countries.
The draft agreement protects the rights of EU citizens resident in the UK and all UK nationals who are resident in one of the EU Member States by the end of the transition period (31st of December 2020).
EU nationals living in the UK (for five years) and British nationals living in EU member states will retain their rights.
They will have the right to continue to live in the respective countries and have their family live with them but will need to undergo a formal procedure to remain in the country.
The aforesaid individuals together with their family members will continue to enjoy the existing residency and workers’ rights from which they currently benefit under EU Free Movement law. Right to healthcare, pensions and other social security benefits will also be preserved.
Under the draft agreement qualifying citizens can be joined by certain family members (spouses, civil and unmarried partners, dependent children and grandchildren, and dependent parents and grandparents) resident in different countries in the future, provided that the relationship existed on 31 December 2020 and still exists when the person wishes to come to the UK/EU member state. Children born to qualifying citizens will also be covered by the terms.
UK nationals who have been lawfully living in an EU Member State on a continuous basis for five years at the end of the implementation period will have the right to reside permanently in that Member State.
Similarly EU nationals who have been residing in the UK on a continuous basis for five years at the end of the implementation period will have the right to reside permanently in the UK.
Individuals who have not lawfully resided on a continuous basis for five years in their host state by the end of the implementation period will also be able to stay until they have reached the five year threshold, at which point they will have the right to reside permanently. Restrictions may be placed however in circumstances where an individual engages in persistent criminality, abuses or defrauding of the system.
In the UK, EU citizens will apply for residence status under the EU Settlement Scheme – https://assets.publishing.service.gov.uk/government/uploads/system/uploads/attachment_data/file/753971/eu-settlement-scheme-pb2-v1.0-ext.pdf.
For UK citizens living in the EU, it will be up to individual Member States to decide on how to implement the residency procedure themselves in line with the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement. The procedures implemented by each State must be transparent, efficient and rationalised.
What will happen after the transitional period in terms of future Free Movement has yet to be negotiated.
However more immediately, without a deal, much of what is currently understood as agreed on Immigration and Freedom of Movement between the EU and the UK becomes much very uncertain. The House of Commons are due to vote on the proposed draft Withdrawal Agreement during the week commencing the 14th of January 2019. In the event of a “No” vote in the house, then immediate preparations will commence regarding a “No Deal Brexit”, something which we sincerely hope can be avoided.
Sinnott Solicitors will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates on the Deal/No Deal situation as it unfolds.