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Latest position on the rights of EEA nationals in the UK post-Brexit

View profile for Kathryn Dooks

The government issued an email on 1 September summarising the progress made in the latest round of negotiations in Brussels over Brexit, with regard to the rights of EEA nationals in the UK. It highlighted the progress made in the talks, including:

  • Agreement to protect the rights to reciprocal healthcare, including European Health Insurance Cards (EHICs), for EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU who are present on the day of exit;  
  • Protection of the rights of cross border workers; and
  • Confirmation that the right of EU citizens to set up and manage a business in the UK will continue, and the same applies to British citizens in their Member State of residence.

The email also set out where the parties were still in disagreement, citing a number of areas where the UK wishes to go further than the EU:

  • posted workers; and
  • the mutual recognition of professional qualifications

Finally, the government provided a link to a table created jointly by the EU and UK negotiators on the respective positions of each side on EEA nationals’ rights, using a handy traffic light system to indicate areas on which agreement has or has not been reached. It seems there is still significant further discussion required.

By way of a reminder, the government has committed that:

  • EU citizens with settled status will continue be treated as if they were UK nationals for education, healthcare, benefits, pensions and social housing after we leave the EU.
  • No EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave at the point we leave the EU. EU citizens will have at least two years to regularise their status.
  • The process to apply for settled status will be “streamlined and user friendly”, including for those who already hold a permanent residence document under current free movement rules. It is expected that the system will be up and running in 2018.

The government states that EEA nationals in the UK do not need to apply for documentation confirming their status now.

At the end of August approximately 100 EU citizens living in the UK received letters from the government stating they were liable for removal from the UK. The letters were sent in error and the government has apologised and said that the individuals should disregard the letters. However, EEA nationals are rightly concerned and we continue to advise that those who are eligible to do so should apply for a certificate confirming permanent residence, after five years living and working in the UK.