Dialogue begins
on EEA citizens’
status post Brexit

One year on from the Brexit vote and political discussion over the future rights of those European Economic Area (EEA) citizens residing in the United Kingdom is finally taking centre stage.

Theresa May’s after-dinner speech to European Union (EU) leaders in Brussels last night broadly outlined her stance towards those EEA nationals currently residing in the UK.

“The UK’s position represents a fair and serious offer, and one aimed at giving as much certainty as possible to citizens who have settled in the UK, building careers and lives and contributing so much to our society,” May said.

Whilst the Prime Minister’s offer lacked specific detail, her proposal did spell out the need for the final agreement to apply to the 1.2 million British citizens currently living within the European Union.

Her opening gambit included the following key points:

  • Those EEA nationals who have already lived in the UK for five years will to be able to secure ‘settled status’* in the UK
    * It is unclear as to whether Mrs May is alluding to the introduction of a new form of residency specifically for EEA nationals
  • Those EEA nationals who arrived after the triggering of Article 50 but before a yet to be determined confirmed cut-off date will be entitled to continue their residency and seek ‘settled status’
  • Those EEA nationals arriving after the yet to be determined cut-off date but before 29 March 2019 will be given two years to “regularise” their status in the country and possibly seek permanent residency at a later date

Whilst Mrs May’s proposal may have made a ‘good start’, as Angela Merkel the German chancellor suggested, however most EU leaders were fairly guarded in their response and eagerly await the further details of the UK’s plan which is set to be published on Monday.

The small print will be key. Does Mrs May intend to introduce a new ‘settled status’ for European nationals which differs to the current ‘permanent residence’ status?

We will have to wait until Monday to find out!

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