‘Likely problem’ EU faces legal challenge over Brexit deal as Britons’ rights questioned

Boris Johnson 'needs to step up for British expats' says expert

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Steve Peers, professor at the University of Essex, suggested the pending case is similar to challenges of the withdrawal agreement regarding Brits retaining EU citizenship. The case seeks to argue the court should “annul the trade agreement signed on December 30, 2020 by the council of the European Union and the UK government, and the decision of the Council of the European Union…to sign it, taken on April 29, 2021.”

It adds of the decision: “In so far as they do no maintain the free movement of UK nationals with close family and ownership ties in the territory of the European Union under Article VSTV 1.”

The claim has two main arguments.

The first that the ‘agreement’ “is an infringement of the rule of law by the trade and cooperation agreement between the European Union and the European Atomic Energy Community of the one part and the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland of the other part”, again claiming that this excludes the provisions from any possibility of being contested before the court and in particular before EU courts.

The second, and more personal arguments, looks into the rights of Brits living in the EU, covering points such as land ownership, previous length of employment in EU companies, discrimination of nationality and the right to private family life.

In his tweet, Prof Peers claimed: “Brexit law.

“Legal challenge to EU Council conclusion of EU/UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement, on the grounds that it did not retain rights for Brits.

“Similar to pending challenges to withdrawal agreement re Brits retaining EU citizenship – likely to face standing problem.”

According to The Week, tens of thousands of Britons living in the EU are in danger of losing their right to remain on the bloc following the Brexit deal.

Around 1.3 million Brits born in the UK lived in the EU prior to Brexit taking effect.

An article in The Times stated: “After the UK left the EU, the bloc divided into two groups…14 countries, including Italy, Spain and Portugal introduced systems automatically granting post-Brexit residence rights.”

However, it went on to say “the remaining 13 states require British citizens to apply” to remain in the respective countries they had been residing in, a move not dissimilar to laws imposed on EU citizens living and working in the UK following Brexit.

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Concerns have been raised that some Britons will be missing out on the their post-Brexit rights while still living in the EU.

Michaela Benson, professor of public sociology from Lancaster University, said: “We urgently need more communication – from the UK, the EU and member states – to get in touch, especially with hard-to-reach, vulnerable UK citizens who risk missing a vital cutoff point.”

Many elderly British expats moved to Spain and Portugal prior to Brexit and may not have fallen into the predicament that some of those in France or elsewhere face.

According to figures, around 26,000 of the 150,000 Brits living in France have failed to register to remain in the country.

A joint statement addressing the problem by UK and EU officials rights’ committee members said: “Public and non-public bodies must also work to ensure that beneficiaries of the withdrawal agreement are able to enjoy their rights and entitlements, particularly when accessing benefits and service, and exercising their right to work, rent and study.”

In the UK, 5.6 million EU nationals had applied for the right to settle scheme, around 4.8 million will receive the status, while around 241,000 have either been refused, withdrawn or had their applications classed as invalid.

According to the Commons Library at Westminster “there is no way of knowing how many people still need to apply, because we don’t know how many people are eligible.”

On a wider scale, the legal battle between the EU and the UK is still ongoing, with the Northern Ireland Protocol. Irish Foreign Minister Simon Coveney warns a breakdown in EU/UK relations could occur over the issue.

The impact of the protocol could also have a negative effect on UK/EU trade, yet opposition to the protocol in Northern Ireland could lead to more disruption, with Sir Jeffrey Donaldson, leader of the DUP, saying: “We are clear there be no internal barriers to trade within the United Kingdom and we want to see the removal of barriers to trade between Great Britain and Northern Ireland and that is our bottom line. For us, the Irish Sea border must go.”

With both trade and personal terms and conditions still being rattled out in the post-Brexit era, it seems that the work of the respective EU and UK teams is still very much cut out.

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