What does Brexit mean for the current rights of UK citizens?

Following on from Friday’s referendum result where the UK voted to exit the European Union our office have been receiving queries from our UK citizen clients in relation to how this result will impact their free movement rights, and that of their family members, pursuant to EU Directive 38/2004/EC and The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015.

For clarity, this result will not have any immediate affect on the rights of UK citizens residing in Ireland as they still benefit from the current EU Free Movement law.

In order for the UK to officially exit from the European Union, the country must formally notify the European Council of its intention to leave, activating Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. It is then up to the European Council to negotiate and conclude an agreement with the UK, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the EU. The European Union must reach a qualified majority agreement between the member states and consent of the European Parliament for the UK to formally exit.

We refer to Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty which states:

1. Any Member State may decide to withdraw from the Union in accordance with its own constitutional requirements.

2. A Member State which decides to withdraw shall notify the European Council of its intention. In the light of the guidelines provided by the European Council, the Union shall negotiate and conclude an agreement with that State, setting out the arrangements for its withdrawal, taking account of the framework for its future relationship with the Union. That agreement shall be negotiated in accordance with Article 218(3) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It shall be concluded on behalf of the Union by the Council, acting by a qualified majority, after obtaining the consent of the European Parliament.

3. The Treaties shall cease to apply to the State in question from the date of entry into force of the withdrawal agreement or, failing that, two years after the notification referred to in paragraph 2, unless the European Council, in agreement with the Member State concerned, unanimously decides to extend this period.

4. For the purposes of paragraphs 2 and 3, the member of the European Council or of the Council representing the withdrawing Member State shall not participate in the discussions of the European Council or Council or in decisions concerning it.

A qualified majority shall be defined in accordance with Article 238(3)(b) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union.

5. If a State which has withdrawn from the Union asks to rejoin, its request shall be subject to the procedure referred to in Article 49.

Following on from recent media reports, it has been announced that Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned from office and has announced in his resignation speech that he would leave the task of triggering Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to his successor.

It was announced that a new Prime Minister would be set to take office by October 2016 who would be responsible for the decision to trigger Article 50 Lisbon Treaty. However, as announced on Monday 27th June 2016, Britain will have a new Prime Minister by 2nd September 2016, after the executive of the Conservative party’s backbench 1922 Committee set a tighter than expected timetable for selecting a new Prime Minister.

In the meantime, we confirm that all UK citizens continue to enjoy all the rights of the current EU law and can therefore proceed with applications pursuant to EU Directive 38/2004/EC and The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015 as per normal.

Should any changes be announced which effect the rights of UK citizens to exercise their EU free movement rights, we will update our clients immediately in this instance.

BROPHY IMMIGRATION TEAM

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