22 December 2017
The Government has announced that, as part of the agreement reached with the EU, the rights enjoyed by British and Irish citizens under the Common Travel Area (CTA) will be protected after the UK leaves the EU.
The CTA allows for the free movement of British and Irish citizens between the UK, Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It also guarantees the rights and entitlements to public services of citizens when in the other’s country. The CTA was formed before either the UK or Ireland were members of the EU and means that rights for Irish and UK citizens operate separately and alongside those rights enjoyed by EU nationals.
This means that Irish nationals will not be required to apply for settled status to protect their entitlements in the UK. The right to work, study and access social security and public services will be preserved on a reciprocal basis for UK and Irish nationals.
There will be also be no changes to the current arrangements for journeys between the UK and Ireland. This includes movement across the land border between Ireland and Northern Ireland, protecting the uninhibited movement enjoyed today.
Under the CTA, UK and Irish nationals enjoy a range of reciprocal rights – for example:
- the right to enter and live in each others’ country
- the right to work
- the right to access education
- access to social welfare entitlements and benefits
- access to health services
- access to social housing
- the right to vote in local and parliamentary elections.
In short, Irish citizens residing in Great Britain do not need to do anything to ensure that their family and working lives will continue as they do now. Irish citizens’ rights under the CTA will be protected after the UK leaves the EU. And, specifically, this also applies to Irish citizens residing in Northern Ireland.
Another group of people whose rights will be protected after Brexit are frontier workers. In this particular situation a frontier worker is defined as a citizen of another EU country, living in Ireland and working in Northern Ireland. The UK Government has made that it clear that people in this category will have their rights protected after Brexit has taken place.