Government Affairs

EU and UK Reach Agreement on Free Movement During Brexit Transition

UK Prime Minister Theresa May has agreed to maintain the rights of EU citizens on free movement during the Brexit transition period. The transition period is the timeframe of the formal exit of the UK from the EU, which occurs on 29 March 2019, through finalization of the complete exit which is scheduled to occur on 31 December 2020. May agreed to the deal to ensure the UK maintains membership in the EU single market and customs union during the transition period.

The agreement on free movement will allow EU nationals who arrive in the UK during the transition period to have the same rights as those nationals who arrived prior to Brexit. The same will hold true for UK nationals who arrive in the EU during that timeframe. Also, under the agreement, the UK will have the right to negotiate its own trade deals which May had sought as part of the compromise. 

While the agreement has settled the status of UK and EU citizens during the transition period, it has also created confusion as to their post-transition status. On 20 March, 14 UK members of European Parliament sent a letter to UK Secretary David Davis requesting clarification of what the agreement means for EU and UK citizens living abroad after Brexit. The issue will be addressed during negotiations on Brexit which will occur starting in April.

On 23 June 2016, a majority of voters in the UK opted for the UK to leave the EU. By a margin of 51.9% to 48.1%, UK voters supported the referendum known as “Brexit.” Then-UK Prime Minister Cameron, who advocated for the UK to remain part of the EU, resigned shortly thereafter and Theresa May was selected to replace him. On 29 March 2017, the UK triggered the Article 50 process, which outlines the withdrawal of a country from the EU. The UK and EU now have until 29 March 2019 to reach an agreement on the separation.

How This Will Impact Mobility

Brexit will likely result in the curbing of free movement of workers between the UK and the EU after the transition period. This would have a direct impact on the ability to transfer employees between the UK and much of the rest of Europe. There are also broader implications regarding Brexit, which could result in businesses relocating offices and employees between the UK and EU. 

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