E.g., 09/17/2019
E.g., 09/17/2019

Next Steps: Implementing a Brexit Deal for UK Citizens Living in the EU-27

April 2018

Next Steps: Implementing a Brexit Deal for UK Citizens Living in the EU-27

The period since the 2016 Brexit referendum has been a tumultuous one for UK citizens living in another EU Member State (the EU-27), as well as for EU nationals living in the United Kingdom. Preliminary agreements reached in late 2017 and early 2018 have shed some light on the status and rights these populations may have after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union, but much remains uncertain. For most Britons in the EU-27, the subject of this report, securing the right to stay in their current country of residence has been the top priority, but many have much more at stake as they lose their EU citizenship.

This report by MPI Europe and Goldsmiths, University of London assesses the progress that has been made in rapidly evolving EU-UK negotiations, then turns to examine the challenges national and local governments across the European Union are likely to face in implementing a Brexit deal on citizens’ rights. It draws on interviews with Member State officials to explore what planning—if any—is already underway, and on interviews with British residents of the EU-27, many of whom have been unsettled by the negotiations and received limited or conflicting advice from authorities.

A particularly large question mark hangs over what systems and processes EU-27 countries may put in place to adjust the legal status of their British residents from that of mobile EU citizens to a new, to-be-decided status. Whatever form these systems may take, the authors write, they should aim to balance inclusiveness with fraud prevention, and to employ smart and ongoing outreach to British communities, including before a final agreement is reached.

Table of Contents 

I. Introduction

II. Confusion and Complexity in the Negotiations Process

A. Planning on Citizens’ Rights during the Negotiations

B. The December Joint Report, Draft Withdrawal Agreement, and Their Implications

C. The Citizens’ Response

III. Systems for Approving Legal Status

A. Existing Registration and Permanent Residence Systems

B. Future Systems for Proving Legal Residence

IV. Other Policy Considerations

A. Family Unification

B. Access to Benefits and Services

C. Political Participation and Integration

D. Onward Movement and Labor-Market Access

E. Advice Systems

V. Policy Options and Recommendations

A. Balancing Inclusiveness with Fraud Prevention

B. Designing Transparent, Smooth, and Streamlined Systems

C. Employing Smart Outreach

D. Creating an Opportunity for Integration

E. Preparing for Returns