My usual ball of choice had more to do with tennis than crystal but I have been asked by the lovely team at Law Express to gaze into the crystal to see what Brexit has in store for EU employees.
Last month I pondered what Brexit might mean for citizens of other EU countries (and Frenchie dogs). Over the past couple of weeks the fog has perhaps started to lift with announcements about the UK and the EU having a transition period of around two years between leaving in March 2019 and beginning the new trading relationship.
In this transition period things would stay pretty much the same as they are now. The UK would continue to abide by EU rules, including the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice, and continue to allow free movement. The only difference would be that from 29 March 2019, all new EU arrivals will be registered.
It is also suggested that legal protections for EU citizens living in the UK be written into the exit treaty, although there are many details to be ironed out.
Such news should mean worried Europeans can relax a bit and expect no sudden changes. The Home Office says that “You don’t currently need to apply for a document to prove you can live in the UK [with some exceptions]” but “A new scheme will be available for EU citizens and their families to apply to stay in the UK after it leaves the EU.” The Home Office has an email signup for people wanting to stay up-to-date with information.
We know that many businesses, particularly in the hospitality, agriculture and building sectors, employ many people from other EU countries. Like its advice to individuals, the Home Office says that the rights and status of EU citizens living in the UK will not change before we leave the EU but that, after we leave, EU citizens will need to apply for a document to prove they have permission to legally work in the UK.
Whatever the stories in the press about people leaving or applying for other citizenship (and there are many such stories), for the moment data for 2016 still shows a strong trend for EU residents to want to live and work in the UK. I am sure more will be revealed in the next year.
We may not have a crystal ball but Law Express can advise on how best to stay informed. In the meantime, I’m off to find my tennis ball.