Monday 11 December 2017

EU citizens 'stripped of the right to live and work in UK by 2019'

British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images
British Prime Minister Theresa May. Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images
Colm Kelpie

Colm Kelpie

The automatic right of European Union citizens to live and work in the UK will end in March 2019 once the country pulls out of the bloc, Downing Street has insisted.

Amid squabbling among ministers about the direction of Brexit, and speculation that free movement into the UK could continue in the wake of Brexit as part of a transition deal, a spokesman for British Prime Minister Theresa May said the government remained committed to its timetable.

It is unlikely, however, that Irish citizens will be affected by this, given the commitment of both the UK and Irish governments to maintain the common travel area.

Europe's Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said earlier this month there was political work involved in terms of the common travel area, which he said was "not that clear", as "not an awful lot is written down".

Immigration from the EU is one of the most contentious issues because the economy relies on imported labour, but many British voters are angry over what they consider to be uncontrolled immigration.

"Free movement will end in March 2019," Ms May's spokesman told reporters, adding that the government had already set out some details including proposals on EU citizens' rights after Brexit. "Other elements of the post-Brexit immigration system will be brought forward in due course. It would be wrong to speculate on what these might look like or to suggest that free movement will continue as it is now."

Chancellor of the Exchequer Philip Hammond said last week that there should be no immediate change to immigration rules when Britain leaves the bloc, and Home Secretary Amber Rudd said there would be no 'cliff edge' on leaving the EU.

It came as the Irish Government formally submitted its bids for the European Banking Authority (EBA) and European Medicines Agency (EMA), but did not release the bid documents - saying all formal offers will be published on the website of the European Council today.

A spokesman for the Department of Finance said the bid for the EBA contains "some sort of package" aimed at encouraging the agency to relocate to Dublin instead of another European capital, but couldn't give any further details.

The department said the submitted document outlines how Dublin meets the objective criteria that have been set out by the European Council and Commission, and highlights how a relocation to Dublin would be the least disruptive move for the EBA and its staff.

"The fact that the United Kingdom has decided to leave the European Union has resulted in significant disruption and uncertainty," said Minister of State with special responsibility for Financial Services and Insurance, Michael D'Arcy.

"For the EBA, its staff and their families, a move to Dublin is the least disruptive option. Our transport links to Europe, our culture, language and skilled multilingual education workforce make Dublin an attractive destination ahead of other potential locations. Given the economic and strategic benefits for Ireland, we are making a strong proposal which includes incentives to support the relocation of the EBA and the establishment of a relocation group to aid the relocation of the authority."

Bids to host the EBA and the EMA, which together employ more than 1,000 people, had to be made by the end of today.

Ireland is interested in both agencies.

Twenty-one countries have already expressed an interest in the EMA, while eight have indicated they want the EBA.

Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Slovenia are the only countries not expected to bid. France with Paris and Lille, Germany with Frankfurt and Bonn, Austria, Ireland, Hungary and Poland are bidding for the two, although no one country will be allowed to get both. A final decision is expected from Europe in November.

Meanwhile, a document published by the Department of Finance in the context of the preparations for the Budget stated that duty free allowances in the event of a hard Brexit could have significant negative impact on indirect tax revenues in the State. It said unless the EU-UK agreement provides otherwise, consumers will be permitted to bring goods from the UK to Ireland free of duty, provided their combined value does not exceed €430.

Irish Independent

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