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- Charles Spurgeon

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-Tolkien

28 december 2018

UK citizens as non-EU citizens in the EU after Brexit: applying the EU Directive on non-EU long-term residents


Professor Steve Peers, University of Essex*
Introduction

What happens to UK citizens in the EU27 after Brexit, if they have been living in an EU27 country for some time? If the proposed withdrawal agreement is ratified, they will retain most of their current rights under EU free movement law in the country they live in, although without the right to move freely between Member States any longer. (There will also be a transition period during which UK citizens could still enjoy free movement rights to the EU27, and vice versa). EU27 citizens in the UK will equally retain current rights (for a detailed annotation of an earlier version of the citizens’ rights provisions in the agreement, which do not differ much from the final version, see my blog post).
If the withdrawal agreement is not ratified, there is apparently no intention on the part of the Commission to propose an EU-wide law to protect UK citizens’ acquired rights (as I suggested here). So, as the Commission pointed out in its most recent communication, it will be up to each Member State to regulate the position of UK citizens' acquired rights under its national law, subject to partial EU-wide harmonisation of some aspects of immigration law concerning non-EU nationals. (It’s a myth that the EU has no power to regulate the immigration status of non-EU citizens, as I discussed in a recent tweet thread. Note that the UK, Ireland and Denmark have generally opted out of these EU laws, including those discussed in this blog post. This will not stop UK citizens being covered by these laws as non-EU citizens after Brexit).
One of the more important such EU measures, as the Commission noted, could be the EU Directive long-term residence for non-EU citizens.  It will obviously be relevant if there’s no deal, but it could even be relevant for some UK citizens if the withdrawal agreement is ratified, because it includes limited provisions on movement to other Member States. These fall short of the free movement rights that UK citizens are losing, but are better than nothing at at all.
For those reasons, it’s useful to take a look at the Directive, from the particular perspective of UK citizens in the EU on Brexit day. Much of what I say here is, however, equally relevant to any UK citizens moving to the EU afterward, or to citizens of any other non-EU countries (besides those which have free movement treaties with the EU: Norway, Iceland, Switzerland and Liechtenstein).
Summary

In case the more detailed legal comments below are too daunting, here’s a short summary. The EU Directive on long-term resident non-EU citizens could apply to UK citizens living in an EU Member State after Brexit. They have to have lived there legally for five years, and it’s unclear if residing there as an EU citizen before Brexit counts, although there’s a good argument it does. There are also parallel national laws on securing long-term residence for non-EU citizens, which might be more appealing in practice for UK citizens, particular if it’s easier to apply under those laws. The EU rules will be more relevant to those UK citizens who would want to move to another Member State in future.  Anyone uncertain about their legal status should research the national law where they are living further, and if necessary obtain legal advice.
 Read the rest of this excellent post here http://eulawanalysis.blogspot.com/2018/12/uk-citizens-as-non-eu-citizens-in-eu.html


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