Mon-Fri: 09:00 - 17:30

Brexit: Position Paper by the United Kingdom, Northern Ireland and Ireland

Position Paper by the United Kingdom (16 August 2017)

                Northern Ireland and Ireland


  1. In relation to the rights associated with the CTA, the rights of Irish citizens in the UK were first codified in 1949, when Ireland left the Commonwealth. The Ireland Act 1949 states that Ireland “is not a foreign country for the purposes of any law in force in any part of the United Kingdom”. The Irish Government also legislated in 1949 to ensure that British citizens in Ireland enjoy similar rights and privileges to those enjoyed by Irish citizens in the UK.15From the 1920s onwards, there were a number of bilateral agreements between the UK and Ireland in relation to social security and healthcare provision; for example, the Social Welfare (Great Britain Reciprocal Arrangements) Order 1960 provided for reciprocity in equal treatment of citizens from either state across the branches of social security covering sickness, maternity, unemployment, what was termed “widowhood” and guardian’s allowance”.16


  1.          As a result of these historic arrangements, the reciprocal rights for UK and Irish nationals include:
  • the right to enter and reside in each others’ state without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission;
  • the right to work without being subject to a requirement to obtain permission;
  • the right to study;
  • access to social welfare entitlements and benefits;
  • access to health services; and
  • the right to vote in local and parliamentary elections.17


  1.          In practice, the operation of the CTA and many of the benefits enjoyed by Irish and UK nationals have also been provided for in instruments setting out EU free movement and associated rights. This intermingling of rights can make it difficult to distinguish what rights accrue under the CTA as opposed to under EU instruments.


  1.         However, the UK and Ireland have continued to make provisions in support of reciprocal rights beyond EU law.18Since the 1970s, the UK, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man have also continued to make arrangements bilaterally in support of protecting these rights. In addition, the existing CTA arrangements and associated rights – and their independence from EEA Treaty rights – mean that UK and Irish nationals have different rights to other EEA nationals in the UK or Ireland, and there are different administrative requirements in relation to accessing some public services.


15 Citizens of the United Kingdom and Colonies (Irish Citizenship Rights) Order 1949.

16 S.I. No. 96/1960 – Social Welfare (Great Britain Reciprocal Arrangements) Order, 1960.

17 In the UK, the Representation of People Act 1983 provides for the franchise of Parliamentary elections and local government elections which includes Irish citizens. Section 8 of Electoral Act 1992 provides that UK citizens resident in Ireland are entitled to register to vote in Dáil elections. Section 10 of the Act provides that any person resident in a local electoral area may register to vote in local elections. The right to vote at elections is linked directly to registration. UK nationals resident in Ireland cannot vote in Presidential elections or in constitutional referendums (as there is no equivalent election for head of state in the UK).

18 For example, the Social Security (Ireland) Order 2007 implements a reciprocal agreement with Ireland covering social security for countries where EU Regulation 883/2004 does not apply.


… further on the UK’s position in the context of Brexit is clarified


Proposal for the dialogue

  1.          The UK proposes that the UK and the EU seek to agree text for theWithdrawal Agreement that recognises the ongoing status of the CTAand associated reciprocal arrangements following the UK’s exit from the EU. The UK believes that this proposal is consistent with the European Commission’s directives. Given the alignment between the UK Government, Irish Government, and European Union, our view is that an agreement on protecting and upholding the CTA and associated bilateral arrangements should be concluded at an early stage


Full text available

Leave a Comment