The International Centre for Relations & Diplomacy (ICRD) has published a briefing on citizens rights amid Brexit negotiations entitled Ensuring Citizens’ Rights After Britain Leaves the EU.
This paper provides a round up of how Brexit negotiations have impacted citizens, both Europeans living in the UK and Britons living in Europe, providing recommendations to safeguarding their rights. It sees citizens’ rights as one of the most urgent and immediate considerations necessary to resolve out of Brexit negotiations.
On 23 June 2016, a groundbreaking referendum vote determined that Britain would leave the European Union, 42 years after it joined. From 29 March 2019, Britain will no longer be part of the union, which has left many unresolved issues necessitating a series of negotiations between Britain and the EU.
The lack of clarity has caused concern not least on the issue of citizens’ rights – for Europeans living in the UK as well as British citizens living in Europe.
As far as both the UK government and the EU are concerned, the issue of citizens’ rights has been concluded during the first phase of negotiations. However, rights campaigners and citizens themselves raise a number of issues with the concluding agreement. They thus remain unassured that their situation will remain the same.
This has led to uncertainty and in some cases legal action. What’s more, what has been agreed so far is not ‘set in stone’ and could be subject to change until ‘everything is agreed’. Along with uncertainty on their position, horror stories about erroneous deportation letters and the inadequacies of registration procedures are placing citizens in a precarious position and there needs to be a strong outline as to how the process will be free from error and avoid chaos when it comes to 29 May 2019.
ICRD proposes the following recommendations:
- Ring-fence off discussions regarding citizens’ rights in order to safeguard them and prevent them from being affected by other parts of the negotiation.
- Reconcile loopholes in the agreement to ensure any existing rights are also protected and free from compromise post-Brexit.
- Amend guidelines to allow for a separate withdrawal agreement regarding citizens’ rights. Draft, agree, sign and ratify the agreement as soon as possible.
- Ensure the application procedure facilitates the process for people in complex circumstances.