Brexit deal reached on EU expats in Britain

Citizens’ right to stay in both the UK and the EU has been agreed in principle as Brexit talks take significant step forward. UK businesses welcomed the increased certainty for the EU workforce.

EU flag in front of houses of parliament: Step towards Brexit deal
The rights of more than three million EU citizens to continue to live, work and study in the UK have been agreed in principle in breakthrough Brexit talks in Brussels.

EU and UK citizens right to stay

Under the deal, EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the rest of the block have the right to stay, with the rights of their children and those of partners in existing “durable relationships”, also guaranteed.UK courts will preside over enforcing rights over EU citizens in Britain but can refer unclear cases to the European Court of Justice (ECJ) for eight years after withdrawal.
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Deal inline with freedom of movement

The deal is in line with current freedom of movement principles with the joint report published by the EU Commission on Friday also saying the rights of those who are yet to be granted permanent residency in the UK will be protected, enabling them to acquire it after Brexit.Prime Minister Theresa May said, “The deal we’ve struck will guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK and of a million UK citizens living in the EU.“EU citizens living in the UK will have their rights enshrined in UK law and enforced by British courts. They will be able to go on living their lives as before.”

Application of the deal

Brexit Secretary David Davis said the deal meant that expats “can now be confident about the rights they enjoy” although concerns were voiced about the practical application of the agreement.The commission said that the administrative process for giving EU citizens residency rights under a new procedure, referred to as ‘special status’, should involve “only what is strictly necessary and proportionate”, which comes after campaigners raised concerns over criminal background checks and deportation.Maike Bohn, a spokesman for the3million – a campaign group that lobbies on behalf of EU nationals in the UK – said she remained concerned about the ‘special status’ provision and the limited oversight of the ECJ.“There’s some broad brush good news but really what I can say is the devil literally is in the detail for EU citizens. It says very little on the administrative process. We want protection in perpetuity – I don’t see that in there,” she said.“We oppose the ‘settled status’ and we want a simple registration system and non-deportation in case of error.“They have clearly taken note of our objections to settled status and they have tweaked the name but what’s underneath concerns us still.”

Relief of employers at increased certainty

Stephen Phipson, chief executive of the manufacturers’ organisation EEF, said, “Many employers will be relieved that their EU employees have more certainty going forward, and government must now clarify the rights of EU citizens by Christmas so that they are not concerned about their future.”Adam Marshall, director-general of the British Chambers of Commerce, added, “The biggest priority for many firms since the EU referendum has been to get clarity and security for their European employees, whose contribution to business success across the UK is hugely valued.“We are delighted that they, as well as UK citizens living and working in the EU, now have more clarity and can plan their future with greater confidence.”Mayor of London Sadiq Khan welcomed what he said was “an apparent U-turn from Theresa May” on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, but said it was “extremely disappointing that the prime minister is still insisting that Britain will leave the single market and customs union”. Samantha Hurley, director of operations at the Association of Professional Staffing Companies (APSCo), said. “We welcome the fact that this deal largely enshrines existing EU residence rights of three million EU citizens in the UK as well as UK nationals living in Europe.“The free movement of professionals benefits the whole economy and, in an increasingly tight market, access to vital skills from Europe and beyond is key to stability and growth. This deal recognises the need for talent in both the UK and the European Union. It is critical that recruiters can continue to find the best available talent either from within the UK, the EU or elsewhere. Conversely, it is also vital that UK professionals can continue to work throughout the EU.”“APSCo is a global trade association and many of our members operate across borders. While continued access to candidates is, of course, vital, this move is also of benefit to the recruitment workforce itself. Although, in theory, ‘nothing is agreed unless everything is agreed’, I’m sure many of our members will be breathing a sigh of relief following today’s news.”Read more about current issues facing global mobility professionals in the Winter issue of our magazine, coming soon.For related news and features, visit our Brexit section. Look out for the launch of 2018's Relocate Awards, entry open in January.Relocate’s new Global Mobility Toolkit provides free information, practical advice and support for HR, global mobility managers and global teams operating overseas.Access hundreds of global services and suppliers in our Online DirectoryClick to get to the Relocate Global Online Directory

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