Frequently Asked Questions for EEA Staff and Their Family Members

FAQFollowing the joint report published by the EU and the UK government on 8 December 2017 relating to progress during phase 1 of the Brexit negotiations, we have updated our FAQ document for EEA nationals in the UK. This can be forwarded directly to your affected staff and is intended to answer their most immediate questions on Brexit. We will continue to update this as and when the situation develops.

If you have any immigration-related questions (on Brexit or otherwise), please contact Annabel Mace, partner and head of UK Business Immigration.

UK Supreme Court Judgment Shows Relationship Between National Courts and the European Court of Justice

HM Revenue & Customs SignThe UK Supreme Court has today delivered its judgment in the long-running Littlewoods VAT case.

The facts are seemingly straightforward and achingly dull. Between 1973 and 2004, Littlewoods overpaid VAT to Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC) in respect of commissions paid to its agents who distributed mail-order catalogues (common in the pre-online age).

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EU Withdrawal, the missing Bill

When Parliament returned from the conference recess, many observers assumed MPs would get down to the business of amending (and passing) the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill.  It had passed second reading on 11 September, and will now need to be considered by a committee of the whole House.  This means all MPs will be able to contribute to a debate on its clauses, and to propose and vote on amendments to its content.

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The Prime Minister’s message to EU citizens in the UK – where are we now?

Brexit Tearing of FlagsTheresa May has today sent an email to EU citizens with the intention of demonstrating that their rights are her ‘first priority’. It doesn’t tell us much more than we knew from the Brexit negotiations at the end of September.

Since the referendum, the UK Government has issued various assurances about EU citizens’ future in the UK (largely with little substance) alongside regular allegations and denials of their treatment as ‘bargaining chips’. Yet it was not until‎ the end of June this year that it published its detailed proposals for Safeguarding the Position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Nationals Living in the EU. In broad terms, EU citizens in the UK with 5 years’ residence before an unspecified cut-off date will be able to apply for settled status, or temporary residence until they have been here for 5 years with the right to apply for settled status at that point.  This gave some certainty but the finer detail has since been the subject of protracted negotiations with the EU (alongside the issues of Ireland and financial settlement). A number of key points remain unresolved despite the Prime Minister’s assurance today that ‘we are in touching distance of agreement’. According to David Davis’ closing remarks at the end of the fifth round of negotiations in Brussels last week, outstanding issues include the right to bring in future family members; to export a range of benefits; to continue to enjoy the recognition of professional qualifications; to vote in local elections; to move within the EU 27 as a UK citizen; to leave for a prolonged period and retain a right to return. The Prime Minister’s message today is also silent on the unresolved issue of the ECJ’s future role in enforcing citizens’ rights.

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Proposed Import Arrangements Leave a Sour Taste for Exporters

Brexit takes us to Geneva

Some say that Brexit negotiations with third countries have not yet started. They are forgetting an important prerequisite. For the UK to control and negotiate its own commercial policy independently, the journey could only start in Geneva. Here is why …

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The Future for VAT: Customs Bill White Paper

VATOn 9 October 2017, the UK Government published its White Paper on the Customs Bill, setting out the government’s approach to legislating for the future customs, VAT and excise regimes post-Brexit. This blog looks at the VAT position.

The paper seems to suggest that the government is now accepting that import VAT will be payable on goods imported from the UK after Brexit. Previously, the government has indicated (in its Future Partnership Paper published in August) that its aim was, rather than having just two categories of domestic supplies and international supplies, to maintain the three categories of supplies currently differentiated under the EU/UK VAT code: (1) domestic supplies; (2) supplies between the UK and the EU27 (i.e. supplies that are currently intra-EU supplies); and (3) other international supplies. The rationale for this aim is laudible and clear: an obligation on importers to fund input VAT (which may be recoverable) is inconsistent with frictionless trade, one of the government’s three guiding strategic objectives. Import VAT, where previously acquisition VAT existed, is a bureaucratic administrative burden for both businesses and HMRC. However, without a deal including changes to both UK legislation and Directive 2006/112/EC this will not be possible. To EU27 countries the UK will be a third country, to the UK the EU27 countries will be third countries. It is unsurprising that maintaining three categories of supplies does not appear to be a likely eventuality, but this will be worrying for both the government and for businesses importing goods from EU countries, which could face the burden of paying VAT upfront, and the additional bureaucracy and friction in international dealings.

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Responding to the Migration Advisory Committee’s Call for Evidence – Let Us Help Your Business Have its Say on Post-Brexit Immigration Policy

The Home Secretary, Amber Rudd, has commissioned the Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) to advise on: “the economic and social impacts of the UK’s exit from the European Union and also on how the UK’s immigration system should be aligned with a modern industrial strategy”.

In response, the MAC has published its Call for Evidence in order to examine current patterns of EU/EEA migration into the UK, employers’ reliance on certain types of EEA migration and the costs and benefits to the UK of such reliance.  Based on the evidence it receives, the MAC will then make recommendations to the government for its post-Brexit transition immigration policy.

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Brexit: Looking at Theresa May’s Florence Speech from the EU27 Perspective

From the perspective of the EU27 Theresa May’s Florence Speech does not materially change the current status of the Article 50 Withdrawal Negotiations.

However, there are some take-aways which should be noted:

  1. The speech and Michael Barnier’s response made it clear that the UK will leave the EU and cease to be a Member State of the EU on 29 March 2019. From the EU’s perspective the UK is a “Third Country” as of 30 March 2019.
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A European Renaissance?

BrexitThe UK Prime Minister Theresa May has delivered her highly anticipated speech in the historic Italian city of Florence.

How far did it move things on?

Truth be told, there was little new in there, and the decision to deliver the speech in Italy rather than London or Brussels remains unclear. Take, for example, Ireland, which along with the issue of EU citizens’ rights and money is a key issue for the EU27. The Prime Minister said:

“The UK government, the Irish government and the EU as a whole have been clear that through the process of our withdrawal we will protect progress made in Northern Ireland over recent years – and the lives and livelihoods that depend on this progress. As part of this, we and the EU have committed to protecting the Belfast Agreement and the Common Travel Area and, looking ahead, we have both stated explicitly that we will not accept any physical infrastructure at the border. We owe it to the people of Northern Ireland – and indeed to everyone on the island of Ireland – to see through these commitments”

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The only certainty with Brexit at the moment, appears to be that there will continue to be uncertainty

The approach in the European Union (Withdrawal) Bill remains the only conceivable way that the UK can both manage to leave the EU and have a working legislative framework on 30 March 2019 by simultaneously repealing the European Communities Act 1972 and incorporating the large body of EU law on which the legal system depends. It passed its first test at the House of Commons with a majority of 36, a majority larger than the government is, even taking the support of the DUP into account. Continue Reading