Brexit: EU Rights Clinic Calls for Further Protection of Citizens’ Rights in Second Phase of Negotiations

The EU Rights Clinic has submitted a letter to President of the European Council Donald Tusk calling upon the Council to instruct the European Commission to continue negotiations on citizens’ rights in the second phase of Brexit negotiations and to address those matters related to citizens’ rights which were not addressed in the interim deal that concluded the first phase of negotiations in December 2017.

Read our letter to President Donald Tusk – you can add your name as a signatory to our letter here.

Acquired rights absent from withdrawal agreement

Following correspondence with the Commission’s Article 50 Task Force in December 2017, the EU Rights Clinic has received written confirmation that the acquired rights of certain family members and primary carers of children, who currently enjoy rights of residence, work and equal treatment under EU law were not included in the interim deal on citizens rights that was reached on 8 December 2017 and which led to conclusion of the first phase of Brexit negotiations.

Based upon statements made in the Council’s negotiating guidelines and directives, the Commission’s Essential Principles on Citizens’ Rights, as well as the European Parliament’s resolution on the state of play of negotiations with the United Kingdom, the EU Rights Clinic considers that the interim deal of 8 December 2017 fails to cover the entire spectrum of rights which all EU citizens and their family members presently enjoy under EU law.

In particular, the interim deal does not cover family members of EU citizens who have returned home after having resided in another EU country, as regards both those who have returned home before Brexit and those who will return to their home Member State after Brexit. In addition, the interim deal fails to address the rights of so-called Zambrano carers – namely non-EU parents of EU children living in their own country – and is silent on the continuing rights of free movement of UK nationals after Brexit. A number of technical aspects are also not sufficiently addressed in the interim deal.

Continued negotiations on citizens’ rights must be given priority

The EU Rights Clinic is seeking assurances from the Council that the directives which it will give to the Commission on the conduct of the second phase of negotiations will seek to enhance and extend the principles and commitments contained in the interim deal.

Priority should therefore be given in the second phase to the continuation of negotiations on citizens rights as a distinct strand that will cover the acquired rights of certain family members and primary carers of children, the continuing right of free movement of UK nationals in the EU27 after Brexit, the incorporation into the final terms of withdrawal of commitments made by the UK on “comprehensive sickness insurance” and “genuine and effective work”, and the inclusion of specific guarantees to ensure that restrictions on grounds of public policy or security comply with the principles of proportionality and equality, adhere to fundamental and human rights and provide for procedural safeguards and full rights of appeal.


The letter to President Tusk has been submitted by the EU Rights Clinic on behalf of 60 signatories, including representatives of the3million and British in Europe, a number of Members of the European Parliament, leading legal experts and academics, as well as representatives of civil society organisations.

The EU Rights Clinic is a partnership between ECAS and the University of Kent in Brussels. It helps EU citizens and their family members overcome problems they encounter when moving within the EU.

If you are an EU citizen in the UK or a UK national in another EU country and are having problems exercising your EU rights, please contact us at

The EU Rights is grateful for the financial support it has received from the European Programme for Integration and Migration under its sub-fund on EU mobility.


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