NUJ member takes Brexit to task

MORE DETAIL is emerging on Brexit and how it will affect the NUJ's members who are EU nationals in the UK and our UK national members in the EU. An NUJ member in the Netherlands has gone to court to get yet more clarity.

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A pro-Europe rally in London, summer 2017

The European Commission has agreed a timetable for the implementation of "transitional arrangements" after the UK formally leaves the EU (on March 29 2019). The transitional arrangements will end on 31 December 2020, the end of the EU's budgetary period, ending speculation that they might last a few months longer.

In March the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier said these arrangements were conditional on the UK "accepting the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) and continuing to allow free movement of people to settle and work until the end of the period".

It has been confirmed that "new arrivals" from the EU, settling in the UK for the first time during the transition period ending in late 2020, will enjoy the same rights as EU citizens already in the UK. This is helpful to those EU nationals already in the UK who need to travel back and forth to other EU countries and who might not have much by way of evidence of their original arrival. (They didn't need any when they did arrive.)

Barnier's statement aimed to reassure "the 4.5 million citizens, British and European, who are concerned about and worried by Brexit. Citizens, since day one, have been our priority".

He also reminded the UK that "nothing is agreed until everything is agreed". That means that the EU could still reject a final Brexit deal with the UK over EU citizens' rights. The European Parliament has already pledged to "continue fighting" for the rights of EU nationals and UK nationals in Europe. It still threatens to veto the deal in an expected early 2019 vote.

A judge at a court in Amsterdam has referred to the Court of Justice of the European Union a case brought by five UK national expatriates living in the Netherlands - including Guy Thornton, a member of NUJ Netherlands Branch. They asked the court to rule on whether Brexit would mean they automatically lost their rights as European citizens or whether they would retain them and, if so, under what circumstances.

The Amsterdam court asked the CJEU (commonly called the European Court of Justice) for an opinion. The CJEU has not yet announced whether it has decided to give one. If there is a ruling on this - which may not be for a couple of years - it will have implications for EU nationals everywhere, since the Court's judgements will affect UK jurisprudence until 2027 at least.

Free advice services for EU nationals in the UK - linked from www.londonfreelance.org/fl/1804brex.html - are starting up. The Facebook group UKCEN allows members to post questions to immigration lawyers for free. The Here for Good service offers free advice for EU nationals in the UK.

London Mayor Sadiq Khan has proposed setting up a web portal for Londoners who are EU nationals to access help on getting "settled status" in the UK. See here for details of a related LFB meeting in June.