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What a ‘No Deal’ would mean for 5 million citizens in Europe.


Steve Peers on the ‘No Deal’ preparedness notes for the Citizens’ Rights of the EU citizens living in the UK and the British citizens living in the EU27.


• The policy paper outlining the UK Government’s action to protect citizens’ rights 📋 in the unlikely event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal was published this morning by the British Government.
• According to Nicolas Hatton, founder of the3million, “Theresa May is now using EU citizens as bargaining chips with MPs to pass her deal through Parliament, after using us as bargaining chip with the EU in the Brexit negotiations. Honestly? Shameful!”



So, the British government paper on the “No Deal” position of the EU citizens in the UK and the British citizens in Europe has finally been published.

The starting point is that the “Settled Status” scheme for the EU citizens in the UK would work in the same way as under the withdrawal agreement, including a five year period to leave and then return. (Obviously this would not be an international law obligation, however).


As an exception, there would be some differences due to the absence of a transition period.

a) cut off on Brexit day;

b) registration ends earlier;

c) no CJEU jurisdiction;

d) lower expulsion threshold applies earlier (No mention of the monitoring authority set up under the Withdrawal Agreement).


The cut off date for applying for EU free movement law family reunion rights would also be Brexit Day, although the actual family reunion could take place within the following three years. After then, stricter UK rules would apply.


Equal treatment for access to benefits, education, etc. would also be “broadly” preserved. Though there is no reference to export of benefits. Qualifications would be recognised if application is made before Brexit Day.

For the British citizens in the EU27, there is little Britain can do. As I have noted before, the European Commission is indifferent and the European Parliament has not pushed it. Their position would largely be up to national law.

They would be far better off under the Withdrawal Agreement, despite its flaws.


Britain would still uprate pensions, subject to reciprocity. Access to the NHS, if they return to the UK.

There is an alarmingly vague statement about non-UK family members on their return to the UK.


The cumulation of social security contributions would be up to negotiations. There is a commitment to the voting rights for EU citizens in the May 2019 local elections, but no mention of afterwards. Seeking reciprocity for the British citizens’ voting rights.


Britain would still seek a deal with the EFTA States, so EFTA citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EFTA States would have rights “broadly as now”. No further details.

Overall, the main changes would arise from bringing dates forward. Inherently, the UK and the EU27 could also lower citizens’ rights in future. But the British citizens in the EU would be worse off depending on what the EU27 member States do in practice.🔷



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(This piece was first published as a Twitter thread and turned into the above article, with the author’s conscent, with the purpose of reaching a larger audience. It has been minorly edited and corrected.)


(Cover: Pixabay.)


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Professor of EU, Human Rights & World Trade Law, University of Essex. Latest book: European Union Law (edited with @CSBarnard24, 2nd ed, OUP).
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