10th January 2019 Vienna, Austria
No Deal Brexit: EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in Austria
In recent days there have been a number of media reports about the implications of a no deal Brexit on the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the rights of British citizens in the EU. To avoid any misunderstandings, I would like to lay out the position of the British government.
Since the beginning of Brexit negotiations, the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the rights of British nationals in the EU and EFTA member states have been a priority for the British Government. The chapter on citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement ensures that citizens’ rights will broadly remain the same as now, subject to ratification. The ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement remains the aim of the British Government.
However, in order to provide absolute certainty to EU citizens in the UK, including the 25,000 Austrians living there, on 6 December the UK Government published a policy paper on citizens’ rights in the event of a no deal Brexit.
The paper represents a unilateral commitment on the part of the UK that EU citizens resident in the UK by 29 March 2019 will be able to live, work and study, and to access in-country benefits and services such as education and healthcare on broadly the same terms as they do now. EU citizens and their family members will be able to apply for residence under the new EU Settlement Scheme (which will include all the aforementioned rights) until December 2020. Contrary to recent media reports, EU citizens based in the UK would not have to become British citizens in order to continue to live and work in the UK.
British nationals in Austria are understandably worried about what their rights will be in case of a no deal Brexit. As such we hope that Austria will reciprocate this offer and guarantee the rights of British citizens in the event of a no deal Brexit as well. We would welcome public details from the Austrian government as soon as possible. A series of countries such as the Netherlands have already made clear that they will protect the rights of British citizens even in the event of a no deal Brexit.