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EU Rights Clinic Calls for Further Protections of Citizens’ Rights in Phase 2 of Brexit Negotiations

26 January 2018

The EU Rights Clinic has submitted a letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk calling on the Council to instruct the European Commission to continue negotiations on citizens’ rights in the second phase of Brexit negotiations and to address those matters related to citizens’ rights that were not addressed in the interim deal that concluded the first phase of negotiations in December 2017.

Letter to Donald Tusk

Acquired rights absent from withdrawal agreement

Following correspondence with the Commission’s Article 50 Task Force in December 2017, the EU Rights Clinic has received written confirmation that the acquired rights of certain family members and primary carers of children, who currently enjoy rights of residence, work and equal treatment under EU law, were not included in the interim deal on citizens’ rights that was reached on 8 December 2017 and which led to the conclusion of the first phase of Brexit negotiations.

Based on statements made in the Council’s negotiating guidelines and directives, the Commission’s Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights, as well as the European Parliament’s resolution on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom, the EU Rights Clinic considers that the interim deal fails to cover the entire spectrum of rights that all EU citizens and their family members presently enjoy under EU law.

In particular, the interim deal does not cover family members of EU citizens who have returned home after having resided in another EU country, as regards both those who have returned home before Brexit and those who will return to their home Member State after Brexit. The deal also fails to address the rights of so-called Zambrano carers – that is, non-EU parents of EU children living in their own country – and is silent on the continuing rights of free movement of UK nationals after Brexit. A number of technical aspects are also insufficiently addressed in the agreement.

Further assurances

The EU Rights Clinic is seeking assurances from the Council that the directives it will give to the Commission on the conduct of the second phase of negotiations will seek to enhance and extend the principles and commitments contained in the interim deal.

Priority in the second phase should, therefore, be given to the continuation of negotiations on citizens’ rights as a distinct strand that will cover the acquired rights of certain family members and primary carers of children, the continuing right of free movement of UK nationals in the EU27 after Brexit, the incorporation into the final withdrawal agreement of commitments made by the UK on “comprehensive sickness insurance” and “genuine and effective work”, and the inclusion of specific guarantees to ensure that restrictions on grounds of public policy or security comply with the principles of proportionality and equality, adhere to fundamental and human rights and provide for procedural safeguards and full rights of appeal.


The letter to President Tusk has been submitted on behalf of 60 signatories, including representatives of the3million and British in Europe, MEPs Seb Dance, Jean Lambert and Molly Scott Cato, Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood, legal experts including Jolyon Maugham QC and Colin Yeo, leading academics including Professor Steve Peers and representatives of civil society organisations.

The EU Rights Clinic is a partnership between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels. It helps EU citizens and their family members overcome problems they encounter when moving within the EU.

If you would like to add your support for the letter, please fill in this short form!

Read the full letter