Thousands of children of EU parents at risk of falling through the cracks of Brexit, IRiS-led study reveals

colin yeo

Barrister Colin Yeo, Garden Court Chambers

Thousands EU citizens and their family members living in the UK under EU law are at risk of ‘falling through the cracks’, with their rights of future residence in question after Brexit, Eurochildren researchers say.

In two Eurochildren Research Briefs published today on the impact of the UK-EU agreement on residence and citizenship rights for EU families, barrister Colin Yeo found the nature and quality of rights of many EU citizens and their future residence in the UK would be thrown into question, particularly for children, whose status is dependent on their parents.

The Research Briefs considered two legal scenarios after Brexit:

  • ‘No deal’ scenario, with the UK leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 without a withdrawal agreement and no new laws being passed.
  • Settled status’ scenario, based on the EU-UK withdrawal agreement.

In the former scenario, the default legal position would be that all the people living in the UK under EU law would suddenly become unlawfully resident. This scenario would expose affected individuals to the full force of the UK government’s “hostile environment”, meaning it would immediately become a criminal offence to work in the UK and access to services including healthcare, bank accounts, rented accommodation and more would be restricted.

In the latter, leaving aside that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’ and assuming that the December agreement is ratified by both parties, a sizeable number of EU families and their children are likely to fall into the cracks of the legal system. The researchers found that while ‘settled status’ would improve the situation for children born after Brexit and reduce the administrative barriers to naturalisation for adult EU citizens, this status would not have a retrospective effect, leaving many in legal limbo.

The full briefs are available here:

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