Brexit negotiations begin with focus on status of EU citizens

BREXIT written with EU flag and British flag
The Brexit negotiations are now underway


It’s been three months since Article 50 was triggered, and as negotiations begin we will be focusing on how Brexit effects British expats living in the EU. We’ll share the latest news, resources and decipher what it all means for you.

On the 19th June David Davis, Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union said at the start of the negotiations:

“Ever since the referendum, I have been clear that my first priority is to provide certainty to European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom, and to UK citizens resident in the European Union – and I know Michel Barnier (EU chief Brexit negotiator) shares this aspiration too. So now the negotiations have started, we are determined to get on with the job and deliver that certainty as soon as possible.

“In addition to our discussion on citizens’ rights, we have reached agreement on how we will structure the talks over the coming months. Michel and I will meet every four weeks, bringing our teams together for a number of days at a time.”

On the 26th June, the UK government outlined how it intends to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU. Prime Minister Theresa May said a policy paper would make clear the UK’s offer to maintain EU citizens’ rights which will be enshrined in UK law. The Prime Minister emphasized that this should be part of a reciprocal agreement also involving UK citizens in the EU.

Many British expats have a number of questions and concerns over the full implications of Britain’s exit from the EU. The British High Commissioner in Cyprus, Matthew Kidd is one official who has sought to provide some clarity on the situation. In his open letter to expats in Cyprus he identified the core elements of the UK’s opening offer as follows:

  • No EU citizen living in the UK before a ‘cut-off date’ (to be determined) will face the threat of being asked to leave after our exit
  • There will be equal treatment between UK nationals and EU citizens entitled to reside in the UK
  • EU citizens’ rights will be robustly and properly enforceable, but in UK law, not through the European Court of Justice (ECJ)
  • The offer has been made seeking reciprocity for UK nationals living in EU member states

Mr. Kidd confirmed the UK hopes that by setting out its offer in this way, it is demonstrating its willingness to work positively and productively with its European partners.  Full details of the offer can be found here.

He also pointed out that the UK offer includes many of the issues (healthcare, pensions, education, and benefits) of concern to EU nationals living in Europe.

Finally, Mr. Kidd confirmed the next step will be for the UK and EU27 to start formal negotiations on these opening positions on citizens’ rights, and the other priority issues for the negotiations agreed on 19 June, namely: the budget and the border with Ireland. Once sufficient progress has been made on those issues, the negotiations will turn to the UK’s future relationship with the EU. The UK’s outline plan is to move to those “future” issues by October 2017.

Key resources

The Guardian: EU Referendum and Brexit

BBC News: Brexit

Status of EU citizens in the UK: What you need to know

Policy paper: Safeguarding the position of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU

UK nationals in the EU: What you need to know