The UK’s departure from the EU is now a fact, and Theresa May has recently confirmed  the UK will trigger the process to leave the EU under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty as early as March 2017. This would mean that it looks likely the UK’s departure from the EU would happen around March 2017.

So many questions remain to be answered as to how Brexit will affect the rights of residence and free movement of UK citizens, and their family members,  within the EU. These rights are currently governed by  EU Directive 38/2004/EC, as implemented in Ireland by The European Communities (Free Movement of Persons) Regulations 2015.  

For those concerned what is to happen when this law no longer applies to UK citizens after March 2019, it may be reassuring to hear that it is currently being reported that consideration is being given within the EU to allow the UK an exemption to the normal freedom of movement rules for up to seven years. It this proposal is effected, it would mean that potentially British citizens and their family members would be given access to the EU market, both in terms of residence and employment and welfare,  on the same terms as they currently are, despite not being EU citizens.

We refer to article in the Guardian dated 24th July 2016:

Senior British and EU sources have confirmed that despite strong initial resistance from French president François Hollande in talks with prime minister Theresa May last week, the idea of an emergency brake on the free movement of people that would go far further than the one David Cameron negotiated before the Brexit referendum is being examined.

If such an agreement were struck, and a strict time limit imposed, diplomats believe it could go a long way towards addressing concerns of the British people over immigration from EU states, while allowing the UK full trade access to the European market.

While the plan will prove highly controversial in many member states, including France, Poland and other central and eastern European nations, the attraction is that it would limit the economic shock to the EU economy from Brexit by keeping the UK in the single market, and lessen the political damage to the European project that would result from complete divorce.