Following Jane Golding’s oral evidence to the House of Lords EU committee, follow-up evidence on the effect of No Deal has been submitted to the inquiry.
Read in full the House of Lords Written Evidence
25. Given all the above, in our view, there is no clear and comprehensive legal solution to the issues faced by British citizens residing in the EU or EU citizens in the UK without a deal between the EU and the UK, agreeing the principles on which the exiting rights of these citizens should be safeguarded, and setting out the detail in the Withdrawal Agreement.
26. Any default position under a mixture of EU, national, European (European Convention on Human Rights) and international law would be an imperfect and patchwork solution and lead to years of
practical problems for more than 4.2 million British citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK who moved pre-Brexit to other EU countries in good faith and with the legitimate expectation that their EU citizenship rights were irrevocable.
27. Moreover, such a solution would also be impractical and create difficulties for both the UK and other EU countries as regards its implementation, entailing an unsatisfactory piecemeal approach to the position of former EU citizens already resident, sometimes far longer than five years, in their countries.
28. It is the current intention of the EU and the UK at this stage in the negotiations to set out in detail any deal that they reach as regards safeguarding citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement, thus giving these provisions treaty status and force of international law. However, the negotiators need to go further and definitively agree that the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement would have direct effect in national law, and also agree which international dispute resolution body will have jurisdiction as regards these rights. This could of course be the Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU), given that the rights in question derive from EU law, and to ensure consistency of interpretation of the rights of both groups of citizens in the UK and EU 27 going forward. In the event that it is not the CJEU, a body fulfilling the same conditions should be chosen.
29. “No Deal” is an ambiguous term in connection with citizens’ rights. It could mean that the UK and the EU are unable to agree on anything, or it could mean that, whilst they are agreed on citizens’ rights, they have failed to reach agreement on other matters and conclude that there is “no deal”. It is essential to ensure that, provided there is an agreement at least on citizens’ rights, we are not in a no deal situation. The UK and EU can do this by ensuring that any agreement on citizens’ rights is ring-fenced from the rest of the negotiations. Currently, in order to reach sufficient progress in the negotiations, the three priority areas in the negotiations are
being linked. This means that matters and compromises that have direct repercussions for the
lives of real people are being mixed up with the discussions as regards the financial settlement and the Irish border. There is no way of avoiding the conclusion that citizens and their rights are
being used as bargaining chips in these negotiations. Unless and until citizens’ rights are ringfenced from the rest of the negotiations, this position will not change.
30. There is also the concern that citizens’ rights may be the only area in which it may be possible to reach sufficient progress by December, the date of the next European Council meeting. In that
case, it may be that the negotiators will seek to make compromises that will limit the extent to which existing rights are guaranteed. Conversely, it may simply mean that the bar is lowered and that, even if fundamental issues concerning citizens’ rights still remain to be agreed, the UK and EU will conclude that “sufficient progress” on citizens’ rights has nonetheless been reached. It would be fundamentally unjust for the 4-5 million people who have relied in good faith on their rights with the legitimate expectation that they were irrevocable if any such compromises were to be made.
31. In conclusion and given what is set out above, on citizens’ rights, the repercussions of a no deal are serious – and exclusively negative for the lives of between 4-5 million people who have moved across the Channel in reliance of their existing rights as EU citizens.