Rights of EU citizens

Paper sets out need for clarity on key issues as negotiations begin.

The proposals from the UK Government on safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in Scotland, and Scots living in EU countries, leave many important questions about real day to day issues unanswered, the Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe said today. 

In a response paper to the proposals published by the UK Government, Michael Russell said the Scottish Government welcomes that EU citizens now have some clarity but called for answers on a number of essential issues affecting citizens, such as the right to vote, access to services and to benefits. These include:

  • what the introduction, by the UK Government, of the new immigration category of “settled status” will mean for those who qualify for it, and what rights they will be entitled to
  • what the process and cost of applying for settled status, and for temporary residence during the grace period will be; and what the rules will be for the family members of EU citizens
  • what the scope of wider rights, including for those who have previously worked in the UK or lived here on a temporary basis, will be 
  • what the rights of Irish citizens will be
  • how the rights of EU citizens will be protected and enforced in the absence of the European Court of Justice
  • what the cut-off date will be for EU citizens already in the UK to be considered as on a path to settled status

Mr Russell said:

“EU citizens make a vital contribution to Scotland and to our economy, society and culture. They must have clarity about their future rights and what Brexit will mean for them and their families. As negotiations get underway again today in Brussels it is important that this issue be concluded as soon as possible.  

“Were Scotland part of the negotiating team, as we have suggested, we would be doing our best to help the UK resolve the matter and any thoughts we offer are given in that spirit.

“It is of course disappointing that it has taken the UK Government a year to set out their plans but with good will on both sides the issues could be settled in the next few days. 

“This issue is also of course about protecting the existing rights of Scots and other UK citizens living in other EU countries, who also continue to face uncertainty over their future. They are also owed an early conclusion.” 

The Scottish Government’s full response is available on the website.


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