Brexit: UK could grant EEAS citizens same rights as EU nationals

Written by Martin Banks on 19 February 2018 in News

The UK has outlined plans to grant residents from Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway similar rights post-Brexit as those from EU member states.

Passport check | Photo credit: Press Association

UK government officials met with their EEA EFTA counterparts in order to extend the deal to each other’s citizens.

The move comes as engagement between the UK and the EEA EFTA members intensifies.

It also follows the agreement reached between the EU and UK in December to secure the rights of the 3.5 million EU citizens living in the UK and the 1.4 million UK citizens living in the 27 member states.


The deal, which covers residency, healthcare, pensions, mutual recognition of professional qualifications and other benefits could be extended to the 18,000 Norwegian nationals, 2000 Icelandic nationals and 40 Liechtenstein nationals living in the UK, and the 15,000 UK nationals in Norway, 800 in Iceland and 60 in Liechtenstein.

EEA EFTA citizens are covered by free movement provisions through the EEA EFTA states’ membership of the EEA agreement. This allows them to currently move to the UK and other EU states, and similarly UK citizens are currently able to move to the three EEA EFTA states.

On Monday, the UK and EEA EFTA countries issued a joint-statement which read, “Positive discussions on these issues took place at the meeting and the parties affirmed their desire to secure the status and protect the rights of UK nationals living in Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein and nationals of those countries living in the UK.”  

Meanwhile, former UK Labour MP Roger Casale, now championing citizens’ rights after Brexit, said it is “high time both the EU and the UK looked beyond the referendum and started thinking about how they can facilitate EU-UK migration in the future.”

He has proposed a “Green Card 4 Europe” option which, he said, addresses the challenge.

The proposal won the Financial Times ‘Future of Europe’ competition (in the migration section) and was published in the FT on 31 January 2017 to critical acclaim.

Casale, based in the UK, told this website, “Michel Barnier is aware of the proposal and the core idea is that EU27 citizens resident in the UK and Britons resident in the EU would carry a Green Card.  It would be issued by the EU and it would look and feel like a driving licence or an EHIC card.

“The Green Card would guarantee EU citizens in the UK and Britons in the EU all the rights they previously enjoyed when Britain was an EU member. For Green Card holders, life would continue as before, despite the referendum.”

He said the proposal is currently being looked at by both the Commission and the European Parliament.

Casale added, “It is a simple, fair-minded, easy-to-implement, reciprocal proposal. Let’s do what we can to make sure it survives its first contact with the negotiations.”


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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