Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens living in the UK and UK Nationals living in the EU

The loss of the freedom to live, work and study.
We often see posts, usually from those living in the UK, which talk about freedom of movement throughout the EU in terms of economic migrants or how it mainly benefits the neoliberal corporations, giving them a cheap source of labour.

There’s a much bigger dimension and one which needs to be made clear. Brexit could lose all British people so much.

We live in France but have the freedom to live in any one of 28 countries, …without the need for registration or visas, where every European citizen is entitled to health care, work, and the simplicity of free movement. We can get in the car and drive throughout the whole of the European continent, no borders, no passport controls, in fact as long as you abide by the laws of the country and can support yourself, you are free to stay.
Our children and grandchildren can live work and study in any one of those countries. We have 27 different cultures on our doorstep, and one currency if we stay within the Euro-zone.

This has been a growing reality for more than 40 years and Brexit, especially with the way the UK is approaching the negotiations, threatens to take all of that away.

The countries of Europe will lose just one country, the UK, we and every British person stands to lose 27 countries and everything those countries have to offer. Yes Europe needs to change, but leaving Europe is a regressive step from integration and a huge cultural and educational loss for so many future British people and for nothing more than some misguided idea that it will be better for the UK.

This response to the UK government’s ‘fair and serious’ proposals on citizens’ rights re the UK leaving the EU, prepared by the coalition groups British in Europe and the 3 Million which represent British people living in the EU27 countries, shows how shockingly amateurish the UK government’s paper is, and makes it clear why it will be deservedly rejected by the EU.

  • The UK proposal does not respond to the comprehensive offer made by the EU on 23 May to guarantee the vast majority of our rights, but instead represents an entirely different form of offer founded in UK law.
  • Given this, when comparing the two proposals, it is not possible to compare like with like and thus the application of the principle of reciprocity is complicated.
  • The proposal lacks detail on safeguarding the rights of UK citizens in the EU.
  • The EU offer set out in the EU negotiating directives, on the other hand, would guarantee the vast majority of the rights that UK citizens in the EU currently have. This should be the starting point for the UK government in its negotiations with the EU in order to protect the rights of UK citizens in the EU, subject to certain clarifications.
  • The offer set out in the UK proposal for EU citizens in the UK represents the substitution of acquired rights of EU citizenship under EU law, with a lesser status of “settled status”, for which EU citizens would be required to apply.
  • In particular, EU citizens would no longer benefit from the same family
    reunification rights, or the overarching principle of equal treatment.
  • In addition, the position on other rights such as pensions, healthcare, rights to work, rights of establishment and mutual recognition of qualifications require clarification.
  • Any definitive agreement on citizens’ rights needs to be ring-fenced from the rest of the Article 50 negotiations if our current anxiety and uncertainty are to be brought to an end, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations.

The full text of the article is available here and there is also a Guardian article summarising this sad state of affairs.


  1. Sean Danaher -

    I’ve benefited myself from this with being able to work in both Germany and France with no issues.

    I’ve lived in the UK for 36 years now but still carry an Irish passport so I am one of the 3 million, but the UK border system is so poor it relies on sampling and statistics rather than actual numbers.

    Earlier in my career when I was involved with CERN (Ireland is not a member) I was tempted to apply for a UK passport, but while it might be sensible to do so, as a republican swearing allegiance to the Queen has always been difficult and to be honest the UK at present is not a country I would wish to endorse. Half the population seem to become citizens of Cloud Cuckoo Land.

    Fortunately the Irish are likely to be a special case and indeed the EU treaties are set up such that there is no reason why the Irish in Britain and British in Ireland will cease to enjoy full citizenship rights in each others countries (as per existing bilateral treaties) as the matter is devolved. (Not so with trade).

    From Dr Mike Galsworthy spokesperson for Scientists for the EU, he is very annoyed about the UK position.

    EU citizen rights should have been an easy win. EU citizen rights… over a year of unnecessary limbo before May makes a sub-standard offer. EU citizens should never have been bargaining chips anyway, as they are of huge value to UK society and should have been protected as such. This was the simplest Brexit issue. It was an easy win. But we are over 10% of the way through the negotiations and this low-hanging fruit still isn’t sorted. We’ve got countless hard issues after this. At this rate, Brexit isn’t happening. Brexit is literally going nowhere fast”. See video:

  2. Peter May -

    The UK has been taken over by the little Englanders with no vision – and as you say residents of Cloud Cuckoo Land. They’re all terribly worried about “leaving debts to our children” but pay no attention to reducing or limiting our children’s opportunities.
    I’m sure there is scope for a legal challenge if the British end up losing their EU citizenship.

    1. Sean Danaher -

      Indeed Peter,
      Agree completely that the younger generation should not loose out as the overwhelmingly voted to stay in the EU. About 10% are eligible for Irish passports (you need an Irish grandparent) so can stay via this mechanism and I understand Guy Verhofstadt is trying to put together some form of EU passport for UK citizens who wish to apply.

      I have a faint hope that reality of Brexit will tear the Tory party apart and it might never happen.

      On the “leaving debts to our children” Richard Murphy has had an exceptionally good blog today on the national debt among other things on the nonsense of this argument but zombified neoliberal memes seems so widespread among the older generation (I think I must have been vaccinated) it is an uphill struggle.

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