Agreement reached on citizen rights after Brexit

Rights of 1million Britons living in EU27 countries, and 3million EU citizens in the UK guaranteed in breakthrough talks

Britons living in France - and the rest of the EU27 nations - can breathe a little more easily after a draft agreement was reached guaranteeing the rights of citizens after Brexit.

EU citizens living in the UK and vice versa will have their rights to live, work and study protected under the deal, which must now be ratified in the EU and UK Parliaments.

But the agreement in principle - which also took in the so-called 'Divorce Bill' and Ireland - has prompted the European Commission to recommend "sufficient progress" has been made on the first phase of Brexit talks, paving the way for negotiations on a transition period for withdrawal and trade.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May held a joint press conference with EU Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker  in Brussels on Friday morning, where she said that British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in Britain could 'go on living their lives as before'.

"The deal we have struck will guarantee the rights of more than three million EU citizens living in the UK, and over one million UK citizens in the EU," she said.

The full joint report is available here

Provision has been made in the agreement for a process in which the UK and member states  can, if they so choose, insist on persons concerned applying to obtain "a status conferring the rights of residence as provided for by the Withdrawal Agreement and be issued with a residence document attesting to the existence of that right" - but administration procedures will be "cheap and simple", Mr Juncker added.

According to the agreement document, should France introduce a residency card scheme, Britons living here will have two years from the date of the UK's withdrawal to start the application process without loss of any rights.

Meanwhile, a 'proportionate approach will be taken to those who miss the deadline for application where there is a good reason', the document adds.

Members of Mrs May's cabinet, including Brexit Secretary David Davis, have taken to Twitter to air their views:

London mayor Sadiq Khan said in a statement: "I welcome the apparent U-turn from Theresa May on the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, and British citizens living in the EU.

"I will pore over the details of this over the coming days because there needs to be clear and unambiguous reassurance to the three million EU citizens in Britain – one million of whom are Londoners – that they can stay, and that they’ll have automatic full rights."

The CBI also welcomed the the apparent resolution of the rights issue. It said: "There are two things that are top of the list. First is the final step for those EU citizens working here, and UK citizens abroad. It must be unequivocal that they are welcome, whatever the final deal. This cannot be their second Christmas where their rights are dependent on negotiations.

"Next is transition. Concrete assurances will build confidence and help firms across the UK and Europe to pause their contingency planning."

Stay informed:
Sign up to our free weekly e-newsletter
Subscribe to access all our online articles and receive our printed monthly newspaper The Connexion at your home. News analysis, features and practical help for English-speakers in France

More articles from French news
More articles from Connexion France
Other articles that may interest you