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Update on negotiations on EU Citizens' rights to live and work in the UK post-Brexit

View profile for Kathryn Dooks

Following on from our previous updates here and here, David Davies and his team were back in Brussels this week (29 September) for the fourth round of negotiations on Brexit. Part of those discussions continued to focus on the rights of EEA nationals to live and work in the UK following Brexit and the right of British nationals to live and work in the EU.

The government has proposed that EU citizens with settled status (i.e. those who have been here more than 5 years) could leave the UK for more than two years without their status being affected (i.e. they would be able to return to the UK afterwards). This is an extremely generous offer by the UK as the only other group who enjoy this privilege are British citizens themselves. Even individuals with indefinite leave to remain in the UK lose that status if they leave the UK for more than 2 years.

In return, the government has asked that UK nationals living in the EU would be able to move within the other Member States, as now (so for example a British citizen living in France could relocate to Germany). The EU is yet to agree to this position.

The enforcement of citizens’ rights after we leave the EU has also been a hotly debated topic, with Europe demanding that the UK remains subject to the jurisdiction of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The Prime Minister stated in her speech in Florence last week that the UK has committed to incorporating the final withdrawal agreement fully into UK law and said that UK courts should be able to take account of CJEU judgments in order to ensure consistent interpretation.

Negotiations are also reaching the detail of how EU citizens will apply for a new settled status. The government has stated that it is committed to making the application as streamlined and user-friendly as possible for everyone. Those who already hold permanent residency documents should not have to go through the full process, for example. The Home Office will also use data that EU citizens have already provided in previous applications, to minimise the burden of documentary evidence required. 

This is a relief to EU nationals living in the UK who have already made these applications as they will appreciate the time involved in pulling them together (and the processing times involved). Nationals of EU member states who are currently living and working in the UK (and who have done so for at least 5 years) would be well advised to apply for permanent residence now, to ensure that they are “on the books” at the Home Office and to minimise any applications / further processing time down the line.

The next round of negotiations is due to take place during the week beginning 9 October.