The United Kingdom is no longer a Member of the European Union as from January 31st 2020.
With the entry in force of the Withdrawal Agreement on 01 February 2020, the EU legislation in matter of the free movement of EU citizens is still applicable during a transitional period (until December 31st 2020).
Regarding the right of free movement and residence, every right shall be maintained until the end of 2020 as if the United Kingdom were a Member of the European Union. This means that the citizens of the United Kingdom may perform the same right of free movement and residence until December of this year.
For such, however, the nationals of the United Kingdom must be legally living in Portugal until the end of the transitional period and continuing living there.
The Withdrawal Agreement does not require physical attendance of the host Member State at the end of the transitional period. The temporary absences (less than six consecutive months) do not compromise the right of permanent residence.
Because Portugal has opted by non-demanding the change of the residence status to the United Kingdom nationals, and their relatives, so far, the proceeding of issuing the documents of residence is kept unchanged.
Subsequently, the British citizens continuing living in Portugal under the Withdrawal Agreement will be issued new residence documents.
What happened on 1 February 2020?
The transition period started on 1 February 2020. This time-limited period was agreed as part of the Withdrawal Agreement and will last until at least 31 December 2020. Until then, it will be business as usual for citizens, consumers, businesses, investors, students and researchers in both the EU and the United Kingdom. The United Kingdom will no longer be represented in the EU institutions, agencies, bodies and offices but EU law will still apply in the United Kingdom until the end of the transition period.
What is the timeline of the transition period? Can it be extended?
The transition period started on 1 February 2020 and will end on 31 December 2020, unless before 1 July 2020 the European Union and the United Kingdom mutually decide to extend it. This can only be done once, for a period of 1 or 2 years.
What status will the United Kingdom have during the transition period?
The United Kingdom is no longer a Member State of the European Union since 1 February 2020. As a third country, it will no longer participate in the EU’s decision-making processes.
However, during the transition period, all institutions, bodies, offices and agencies of the European Union continue to hold the powers conferred upon them by EU law in relation to the United Kingdom and to natural and legal persons residing or established in the United Kingdom throughout the transition period.
What has been agreed on citizens’ rights?
The right for every EU citizen and their family members to live, work or study in any EU Member State is one of the foundations of the European Union. Many EU and United Kingdom citizens have made their life choices based on rights related to free movement under Union law. Protecting the life choices of those citizens and their family members has been the first priority from the beginning of the negotiation.
The Withdrawal Agreement safeguards the right to stay and continue their current activities for over 3 million EU citizens in the United Kingdom, and over 1 million UK nationals in EU countries.
Who is protected by the Withdrawal Agreement?
The Withdrawal Agreement protects those EU citizens residing in the United Kingdom, and UK nationals residing in one of the 27 EU Member States at the end of the transition period, where such residence is in accordance with EU law on free movement. The Withdrawal Agreement also protects the family members that are granted rights under EU law (current spouses and registered partners, parents, grandparents, children, grandchildren and a person in an existing durable relationship), who do not yet live in the same host state as the Union citizen or the UK national, to join them in the future.
Children will be protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, wherever they are born before or after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal, or whether they are born inside or outside the host state where the EU citizen or the UK national resides. The only exception foreseen concerns children born after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal and for which a parent not covered by the Withdrawal Agreement has sole custody under the applicable family law.
Which rights are protected?
The Withdrawal Agreement enables both EU citizens and UK nationals, as well as their respective family members, to continue to exercise their rights derived from Union law in each other’s territories, for the rest of their lives, where those rights are based on life choices made before the end of the transition period.
Union citizens and UK nationals, as well as their respective family members, can continue to live, work or study in the host state as they currently do under the same substantive conditions as under Union law, benefiting in full from the application of the prohibition of any discrimination on grounds of nationality and of the right to equal treatment compared to host state nationals. The only restrictions that apply are those derived from Union law or as provided for under the Agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement does not prevent the United Kingdom or Member States from deciding to grant more generous rights.
The substantive conditions of residence are and will remain the same as those under current EU law on free movement.
In essence, EU citizens and UK nationals meet these conditions if they are: workers or self-employed; or have sufficient resources and sickness insurance; or are family members of some other person who meets these conditions; or have already acquired the right of permanent residence and are therefore no longer subject to any conditions.
The Withdrawal Agreement does not require physical presence in the host state at the end of the transition period – temporary absences that do not affect the right of residence and longer absences that do not affect the right of permanent residence are accepted.
Those protected by the Withdrawal Agreement who have not yet acquired permanent residence rights – if they have not lived in the host state for at least five years – will be fully protected by the Withdrawal Agreement, and will be able to continue residing in the host state and acquire permanent residence rights in the host state also after the United Kingdom’s withdrawal.
EU citizens and UK nationals arriving in the host state during the transition period will enjoy the same rights and obligations under the Withdrawal Agreement as those who arrived in the host state before 31 January 2020. Their rights will be subject to the same restrictions and limitations, too. The persons concerned will no longer be beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement if they are absent from their host state for more than five years.