When will EU citizens lose the right to freely live and work in the UK?

And what does it mean for Brits abroad?

Words by Jadie Troy-Pryde

As the result of last summer’s Brexit referendum sinks in, we are finally seeing some consequences from the UK’s decision to leave the EU. Up until now, we’ve learnt about the impact it will have on our lifestyle – chocolate bars will get smaller and more expensive, Ryan Air will not continue to fly between the UK and Europe, and it has rocked the British property market.

However, the impact could be far more substantial for EU citizens currently living in the UK. Under the current system, EU citizens are free to live and work in other EU countries without the need for visas or work permits. However, when Brexit is all tied up in March 2019, where does that leave those EU citizens wishing to live and work in the UK?

This week, Downing Street confirmed that one of the key consequences is the loss of automatic freedom to travel and work in Britain. Theresa May’s spokesman said: ‘Free movement will end in March 2019. We have published proposals on citizens’ rights.’

A new registration system will be put in place when the UK is no longer a part of the free movement agreement, and this would make it a lot harder for migrant workers to come and live here.

And where does that leave British citizens in terms of free movement around EU countries?

Well, it’s not so clear at the moment. The European Union have previously suggested that they would support British citizens’ right to live and work in EU countries, and would protect the rights of the 1.2 million Brits currently living and working abroad under free movement.

However, the British government did not reciprocate this offer to the 3 million EU citizens living in the UK. Instead, they proposed to give those currently working here ‘settled status’, but this would be lost if they left the UK at any point for two years or more.

In the wake of our government’s decision, it seems unlikely that the free movement of Brits in EU countries will continue – they have already stated that it would be ‘wrong’ to believe that ‘free movement would continue as it is now’.

Until a deal is struck, nothing is certain. But saying that, don’t hold your breath…

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