The Withdrawal Agreement provides citizens with the certainty they need about their rights now that the UK has left the EU. It protects the rights of EU citizens in the UK, UK nationals in the EU and their family members who are lawfully resident by the end of the transition period on 31 December 2020. It ensures they can continue to live, work, study and access benefits and services, such as healthcare, broadly as they do now. The Government remains committed to ensuring the correct and timely implementation of the Citizens’ Rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement in the UK and continues to work with EU Member States to ensure they undertake the same implementation for UK nationals. We also have similar citizens’ rights agreements with the EEA EFTA States and Switzerland.
Implementation for EU citizens in the UK
In the UK, EU citizens and their family members with both settled and pre-settled status under the EU Settlement Scheme have secured their rights in UK law. The EU Settlement Scheme is a success and as of 30 September 2020, over 4 million applications have been received, of which nearly 3.8 million grants of status have already been made. The Government has taken early action to protect the rights of EU citizens in the UK and there is plenty of time left to apply before the deadline of 30 June 2021. A Frontier Workers’ Permit Scheme is also being established with an opening date due to be announced shortly.
Work to operationalise the provisions relating to social security coordination, are also advanced. Operational guidance will also be published to aid frontline staff in determining entitlements to benefits and healthcare in scope of the social security coordination provisions in the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Government is also on track to establish the Independent Monitoring Authority for the citizens rights’ agreements that will monitor the UK’s compliance with the Citizens’ Rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement and EEA EFTA Separation Agreement in the UK and Gibraltar. Information on its functions have recently been published on gov.uk.
Implementation for UK nationals in the EU
The Government has been working closely with EU Member States on implementation for UK nationals in the EU throughout the transition period. The Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights has already met three times to monitor the implementation and application of the Citizens’ Rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement in both the UK and the EU. Joint statements from each of these meetings have been published on gov.uk.
The EU Settlement Scheme in the UK has been fully open since 30 March 2019. Throughout the transition period, we have sought application windows, beyond the minimum six-month window, in the thirteen Member States that will require UK nationals and their family members to apply for a new residence status. The Government is pleased to announce that all thirteen Member States have responded positively and UK nationals and will have at least eight months to apply and significantly longer in some Member States. Full details can be found on the ‘Living in Guides’ on gov.uk.
The remaining fourteen Member States will operate a declaratory system, whereby rights under the Withdrawal Agreement are conferred automatically by operation of the law, for individuals that meet the conditions of the Withdrawal Agreement. As is already the case, UK nationals should ensure they are correctly registered in their Member State of residence.
The Government will publish a full list of Member State frontier worker systems on gov.uk before the end of the transition period.
The Government continues to work with the EU on clear and consistent communications and comprehensive support for the vulnerable. We are reaching out directly to UK nationals in the EU through our network of Embassies, High Commissions and Consulates at town hall events and online to ensure all UK nationals and their family members are aware of any actions they may need to take in the Member State where they have made their home.. Our ‘Living in Guides’ on gov.uk, which cover the EU and EFTA States , are the principal source of guidance for UK nationals in the EU, including their rights under the Withdrawal Agreement and EEA EFTA Separation Agreement. They provide the latest information and actions that UK nationals may need to take and signpost to Member State and EU guidance where relevant.
Readiness for the end of the transition period
Looking to the end of the transition period and beyond, the Government published an “explainer” on gov.uk on 19 October 2020 to help EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU understand their rights and how they are protected by the Withdrawal Agreement.
The Government is also pleased to confirm that a Joint Report on Residency, produced by the Specialised Committee on Citizens’ Rights has, today, been published on gov.uk and placed in the Libraries of both Houses. The Joint Report provides comprehensive details of residency systems in the UK and the EU, including details of application deadlines and the number of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU who have secured their rights. It is the Government’s intention to publish updates to the Joint Report throughout 2021 in order to provide additional assurance that citizens’ rights are being upheld.
The Government will continue to work closely with the EU and Member States to ensure that citizens’ rights are protected and individuals are aware of any steps may need to take to secure their rights and access the entitlements that flow from those rights in the future. Further details on the progress of implementing the Citizens’ Rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement will be made available to Parliament.