Brexit chaos - what does it mean for my citizens' rights?
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Dear fellow EU citizen,

While the Brexit chaos continues, with the Prime Minister expected to lose the vote on her deal next Tuesday, I thought it was a good time to ask the question: what does it mean to my citizens' rights?

Yesterday, the Government published its final technical note on EU citizens; we now finally have more clarity about what happens to us in case of a no-deal Brexit. 

In summary, our rights will be 'watered down' in case of no-deal Brexit, but the guarantee we will be able to stay will be honoured, as the Home Office would roll out its settlement scheme regardless. 

But, and there is a but, there are significant differences between the three scenarios:

1. The UK remains in the EU or joins the EEA:
All current rights are protected by European treaties, as now

2. The UK leaves the EU, under the Article 50 procedure and the rules of the Withdrawal Agreement:
We have commented about the agreement on many occasions, which you can read at

We like the fact the agreement would be an international treaty, preventing the Home Office from 'misbehaving' in the future, but it is not a like-for-like translation of our existing rights, and accessing these rights will be conditional to applying successfully with the Home Office, for a fee, a task which is somehow more complicated than it seems.

3. The UK leaves the UK without a deal
The Government has issued a paper this morning, which finally gives us the details of what would happen if the UK leaves without a deal with the EU.

This is a direct quote from the Government's email we received yesterday:

"The Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union has today set out provisions for EU citizens and their family members in the UK in the event of a no deal outcome. You can read the policy document here.

 The information set out today:
1/ Confirms that in the event of a no deal, the EU Settlement Scheme will continue to be implemented, enabling EU citizens and their family members living in the UK by 29 March 2019 to secure their status and continue to be able to work, study, and access benefits and services in the UK on the same basis after we exit the EU as they do now. The scheme will be fully open by 30 March 2019 as planned.

2/ Confirms that the Home Office will continue to look to grant status rather than refuse and, as per the UK commitment to be more generous in certain respects than the draft Withdrawal Agreement, a person will not be refused status under the EU Settlement Scheme because, for example, they are not economically active or they do not hold comprehensive sickness insurance. A person will continue to be eligible for settled status under the scheme where they have been continuously resident in the UK for five years, and for pre-settled status (five years’ leave to remain) if they do not yet qualify for settled status.  

3/ Confirms that the EU Settlement Scheme Grant Funding will continue as planned, providing organisations with funding to help ensure that EU citizens who need extra support to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme are able to access it. 

4/ Confirms that we will continue to take a proportionate approach to those who miss the deadline for a good reason and allow them a reasonable further period in which to apply.
5/ There would be some changes to the EU Settlement Scheme if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, which are set out in the policy document.  In particular, as there will be no agreed implementation period, the application deadline will be brought forward to 31 December 2020."

Like many others, I welcome the publication of the paper, so we now know, but the3million has concerns:

1/ According to points 7 & 8, our citizens' rights will only be guaranteed for those residents who are living in the UK on 29 of March 2019. What will happen to those who are currently studying or working on assignment abroad?

2/ the document lays out an exemption to the rule above for cross-border and frontier workers, who travel regularly in and out of the UK. But not for any other group.

3/ on social security coordination the Government is aiming low. Rather than seeking an agreement with the EU on future aggregation of for example state pension years they only seek to secure past contributions.

4/ Family reunion rights will be now be time-limited family will only be able to join EU citizens in the UK within the three years of the Brexit date.

5/ Very worrying is that the Government plan is creating the situation Yvette Cooper MP pointed out during the Home Affairs Committee on 30 Oct. Two indistinguishable sets of EU citizens with separate rights to work and live will be created. Leading to unavoidable discrimination

6/ or as Stuart McDonald MP put it correctly in the same Home Affairs Committee on 30 Oct: Employers & landlords will not touch EU citizens with a barge pole in fear of heavy fines and punishment resulting from the Government's #HostileEnvironment policies.

7/ this situation arising from a No-Deal Brexit is unacceptable and it is high time now for both the Prime Minister & the European Commission to get together and ring-fence, rescue, the #citizensrights part of the Withdrawal Agreement no matter what Brexit we will get. 

Steve Peers and Colin Yeo have issued very good summaries too, which I am sharing with you now:

Steve Peers:

1/ The UK government paper on the "No deal" position of @The3Million and @BritishInEurope has finally been published. Thread on the key points.

2/ The starting point is that the settled status scheme for EU citizens would work in the same way as under the withdrawal agreement, including a five year period to leave and then return. (Obviously, this would not be an international law obligation, however).

3/ As an exception, there would be some differences due to the absence of a transition period. 
a) cut off on Brexit day
b) registration ends earlier
c) no CJEU jurisdiction 
d) lower expulsion threshold applies earlier
(No mention of the monitoring authority set up under the WA)

4/ The cut off date for applying EU free movement law family reunion rights would also be Brexit Day, although the actual family reunion could take place within the following three years. After then stricter UK rules would apply.

5/ Equal treatment for access to benefits, education etc. also "broadly" preserved. No reference to export of benefits. Qualifications recognised if an application is made before Brexit Day.

6/ For @BritishInEurope there's little the UK can do. As I've noted before the Commission is indifferent, and the European Parliament hasn't pushed it. Their position would largely be up to national law. They would be *far* better off under the withdrawal agreement, despite its flaws.

7/ UK will still up-rate pensions, *subject to reciprocity*. Access to the NHS if they return to the UK. Alarmingly vague statement about non-UK family members on return to the UK.

8/ Cumulation of social security contributions will be up to negotiations. Commitment to voting rights for @The3Million in May 2019 local elections (no mention of afterwards). Seeking reciprocity for @BritishInEurope voting rights.

9/ UK would still seek a deal with EFTA States so EFTA citizens in UK/UK citizens in EFTA would have rights "broadly as now". No further details.

10/ Overall: main changes would arise from bringing dates forward. Inherently the UK and EU27 countries could also lower rights in future. @BritishInEurope far worse off depending on what EU27 Member States do in practice. 

Colin Yeo:
Breaking: government to water down EU citizens’ rights if no Brexit deal

European regards,


Nicolas Hatton is a founder member of the3million, the EU Citizens' group

the3million is a not for profit organisation formed by EU citizens after the Brexit referendum to protect the lives of EU citizens who made the UK their home. We rely on donations to run the campaign. Please consider becoming a paying supporter today. Starts from £2.50 per month. Alternatively, you can donate to our GoFundMe fundraiser with a one-off donation.


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In the news

Source: The New Yorker 

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