The 23rd of June 2016 is a day that will go down in history – the day that the United Kingdom voted by a majority of 51.9% to 48.1% to leave the European Union.
On the 29th of March 2017 the British Prime Minister triggered Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which will see the United Kingdom formally leave the European Union on the 29th of March 2019.
Talks between the EU and the UK have been ongoing since June 2017 as to how Brexit will take effect in reality and what it will mean for both the citizens of the European Union and the United Kingdom in practical terms. Most people do not like the prospect of Brexit and polls conducted following the historic vote of the 23rd of June 2016 now confirm that the majority of British citizens are against Brexit and were the vote to be cast again, there would be no Brexit and the UK would remain part of the European Union.
Like it or not however, one thing which is for certain is that Brexit is here to stay. What is not certain at the moment is how Brexit will in reality take effect and what the implications of same will be for Irish, UK and EU nationals going forward.
So far a draft Withdrawal Agreement including a Protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland has been concluded however this has yet to be ratified by either side. Following events in the past number of weeks the prospect of the draft Withdrawal Agreement remains uncertain.
If a deal is reached, then after the 29th of March 2019 a transitional period will be entered into until December 2020, which would in theory mean that the UK has left the EU, but the effect of its leaving will remain unchanged. The UK would remain part of the Single Union and Customs Union and would continue to fall within the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice with free movement rights all remaining in place until the end of 2020, with the additional option for parties to extend the transition period even further.
If a deal is not reached, then the UK will leave the EU on the 29th of March 2019 with immediate effect leaving no transitional period and customs borders, tariffs and further chaos in its wake. The European Council still has the power to extend the deadline provided that every member state, including the UK agrees to the extension.
The UK House of Commons must vote on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement before the 21st of January 2019 and at present are set to cast their vote during the week commencing the 14th of January 2019. Between now and then, there will be much uncertainty as to the future of Brexit and the Deal/No Deal scenario.
At present, the United Kingdom is part of the Single Customs Union which allows for, amongst other things, Free Movement of persons across the EU. In this article we focus on the proposed Withdrawal Agreement and what it means in practical terms for the Free Movement of UK nationals in Ireland and Irish and EU nationals in the UK.
The Draft Agreement and Immigration Implications for Irish/UK nationals in the Common Travel Area
The draft Withdrawal Agreement upholds the rights of Irish and British nationals under the Common Travel Area after the United Kingdom exits the EU. What this means is that unlike other EU nationals residing in the UK and UK nationals residing in the EU, there will be no requirement for Irish and UK nationals to apply for settled status. The right to live, work, study, travel, access social welfare, health care, social housing and vote in certain elections will all remain unchanged.
UK nationals and their family members will continue to enjoy Free Movement rights in Ireland and Irish nationals together with their family members will reciprocally continue to enjoy residency and Free Movement rights in the United Kingdom. This is of particular relevance for citizens of the United Kingdom who wish to reside in Ireland and have family members join or accompany them to the State, a topic which Sinnott Solicitors has extensive experience in advising on.
There will be no reduction of rights, safeguards and equality of opportunity as set out in the Good Friday (Belfast) Agreement 1998.
There will be no hard border on the island of Ireland, with travel arrangements between the UK and Ireland (including the border between the North of Ireland and the Republic of Ireland) remaining the same.
As the future of the Draft Agreement is currently uncertain Sinnott Solicitors hopes that it will be approved by the House of Commons to ensure that the rights of Irish citizens living in the United Kingdom and UK citizens living in Ireland remain unchanged preserving the unique relationship between the Irish and British nations.
Sinnott Solicitors will continue to monitor the situation and provide regular updates on the Deal/No Deal situation as it unfolds.
Should you have any queries regarding the contents of this article our specialist Brexit Immigration Task Force is here to assist on firstname.lastname@example.org or 0035314062862.