The EU and UK have published the latest draft agreement on the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union. The latest draft agreement incorporates the earlier agreement reached between the UK and EU on Citizen’s Rights.
One key area which is still not resolved relates to any ongoing free movement rights of UK nationals who have obtained settled status in one Member State and wish to move to another following the end of the transition period. This is likely to be an area of particular importance to UK nationals living in the EU.
In addition to the draft withdrawal agreement, a framework for the future relationship between the UK and EU has been released. This does not provide detailed proposals on future arrangements but outlines key themes.
From an immigration perspective, this raises the prospect of reciprocal agreements for visa free travel for the purposes of business and tourism. This builds on earlier proposals from the UK Government, and a recent proposal from the EU Commission in which an offer of visa free short term travel was made. The EU Commission has suggested that in the event a final deal is reached, visa free travel will take effect from the end of the transition period. Where there is no deal, it is proposed that this would take effect immediately following Brexit, subject to the UK making reciprocal arrangements.
What does this mean for employers?
The draft agreement remains subject to ratification by both the UK, EU and each member state. The current wording may not reflect the final agreement reached. There also still remains the possibility of no deal.
In the event of no deal, the UK Government has confirmed that EU nationals residing in the UK at the point of Brexit will be entitled to continue doing so. There remains less certainty regarding the impact of a no deal on UK nationals residing in the EU.
Whilst visa free travel is welcome, businesses should be aware that it is likely there will be restrictions on the activities individuals can undertake. As such, businesses should look at their current systems for assessing business activities and how these can be expanded to incorporate EU-UK business travellers.