We’ve already looked at the rights of European citizens in Britain after Brexit. What about the other side of the euro? There are roughly 1.3 million Brits living in Europe according to UN estimates. What will happen to them after the UK leaves the EU? Particularly in terms of a ‘no deal’ scenario, will they still have the right to live and work in the European Union? Who decides what kind of rights they will retain?
What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Roger, who hopes we will see reciprocity between countries in terms of granting citizen rights after Brexit. We have indeed already seen some countries (such as France and the Netherlands) unilaterally extend certain rights to British citizens even in the event of ‘no deal’. Will other EU countries do likewise?
To get a response, we spoke to Jane Golding, Co-Chair and Founder of the campaign organisation British in Europe. How would she respond? Will we see reciprocity between countries in terms of granting citizen rights after Brexit?
I think that what we’re seeing at the moment is that we will have twenty-seven different solutions if there is a ‘no deal’. That’s what we’re facing at the moment. Yes, there is an element of reciprocity because I think that each EU-27 country is looking very closely to see what is being done by the UK in relation to its citizens…
However, as far as we’re aware there is no legislation that has been adopted yet, although a number of countries have made proposals or political statements about what might happen, and at the moment we’re seeing different solutions being proposed in different countries. Some would be very much based on our previous status and our EU rights, the others I think we may just default to pure third-country status, which obviously is not the best solution.
For another perspective, we put the same comment to Dr Anthony Valcke, Legal Expert of the European Citizen Action Service and Supervising Solicitor of the EU Rights Clinic, a partnership between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels, which helps EU citizens and their family members who are faced with complex problems when moving around the EU. What would he say?
Well, here of course it gets a little bit complicated because you have some countries which are part of the Schengen Area and which have minimum common standards – not completely uniform and not covering every single facet of migration, but – … so, for the Schengen countries you have directives that apply on long-term residence; so people who are not EU citizens who have been residing in a particular country for more than five years get to apply for long-term residence status. You have directives on students, you have directives on work permits, etc., etc.
So, those apply for Schengen Area [countries]. So, there are some minimum standards which of course Member States would not be able to provide for a status for British nationals that goes below those minimum standards. And then you have other countries, like Ireland, like Bulgaria, like Cyprus, like Romania, which either are not part of the Schengen Area – that’s Ireland – or are not yet fully part of the Schengen area, in which case their national law would apply.
It is a shame that the European Commission did not, in its contingency planning, propose a ‘Minimum Conditions Directive’, as it were, to allow for British citizens who are currently living in European countries to retain their rights. There technically would be nothing legally to stop them but, of course, such directives need to be agreed by all the Member States, and I guess that there isn’t political appetite for that, and that’s why the Commission instead of proposing a directive has instead made a recommendation that Member States should be as generous as possible in case there is a ‘no deal’ in terms of protecting the status of British citizens in the EU. So, in practice, if there is ‘no deal’ it does mean that there’s going to be a patchwork of different rules, although there will be some minimum conditions below which the Member States cannot go…
What rights should Brits living in Europe have after Brexit? Will a ‘no deal’ Brexit mean a patchwork of different rights across the EU? Or will there be reciprocity between countries in terms of how Brits should be treated? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!