Common Travel Area agreement signed to ease post-Brexit concerns
The UK and Ireland governments have signed a deal to maintain the rights of UK and Ireland citizens under the Common Travel Area (CTA).
The non-binding agreement confirms that UK and Irish citizens can still travel freely between the UK and the Republic of Ireland after the former leaves the European Union.
The Common Travel Area and Brexit
The CTA has been in place since the 1920s. It is the term used to describe a variety of rights that are available only to citizens of Ireland and the UK.
Under the CTA, the UK includes England, Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man and the Channel Islands. Although the CTA receives recognition under the EU’s Treaty of Amsterdam, the rights under the agreement are not dependent on either state remaining in the EU.
Common Travel Areal benefits
The CTA provides Irish and UK citizens with reciprocal rights to travel, work and study within Ireland and the UK.
Irish and UK citizens can live in either country. They can also benefit from social security, public health services, and to vote in certain elections.
The CTA is largely based on trust. There is no legally binding international agreement which establishes the terms of the CTA. The recent agreement signed by the UK and Irish governments is likewise a non-binding Memorandum of Understanding.
Critics point out that legally enforceable guarantees should protect citizens against the outcome of a hard Brexit. The agreement is nonetheless considered an important first step in securing relations between both countries after the UK leaves the EU.
It may also indicate that the stagnant Stormont assembly may be heading towards restoration and that legislative activity in Northern Ireland will resume.
No action required by either employers or employees
Employers in Ireland that employ UK citizens will not, therefore, need to take any action to regularise the position of UK employees post-Brexit. Similarly, Irish or UK employees based in either country are not required to take any action to maintain their CTA rights.
The Memorandum of Understanding also includes a commitment from both governments to take any necessary legislative steps to give effect to any specific aspects of CTA rights.
A further update will take place if there are any CTA statutory developments affecting Irish employers.
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