Brits could get unified EU-residency rights under no-deal Brexit

15 January 2019 12:33

The rights of British citizens living in the EU after a no-deal Brexit could be decided by the European Commission rather than by national governments, MLex has learned.

The commission has asked governments to consider renouncing their powers over residency rights, MLex understands, to prevent inconsistencies that could harden the UK’s stance toward EU citizens in a no-deal scenario.

National representatives will have a chance to comment on the proposal at a meeting on this issue scheduled for Wednesday. Residency rights for non-EU nationals are generally the business of each national government, not the commission.

The EU’s 27 remaining governments are in the midst of drafting legislation to prepare for a no-deal Brexit, including provisions on the status of more than a million UK citizens who live elsewhere in the EU.

Their approaches differ greatly on issues such as registration and eligibility criteria, it emerged during a coordination meeting last month. This means that, absent an EU-wide approach championed by the commission, the legal situation of UK citizens residing in the EU would differ from country to country.

During last month's talks, the commission called on governments to take a “generous approach” to UK nationals who are already residents in their territory, hoping for a reciprocal approach from the UK government toward EU citizens living in Britain.

The UK has assured the 3 million EU citizens living in Britain that their rights will remain almost unchanged under a no-deal Brexit scenario, but this assurance has not yet been written into law.

An incoherent approach between EU member states could harden the British stance on EU citizens’ rights, particularly if certain countries put up high barriers for UK citizens to remain.

But national governments worry that giving up their rights could set a precedent that the commission could use in other situations in the future, MLex understands.

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