Common Travel Area deal ‘almost ready to sign’

An agreement ensuring freedom of movement between the UK and Ireland for British and Irish citizens after Brexit is almost ready to sign, a British diplomat said.

British ambassador to Ireland Robin Barnett said London and Dublin have worked “intensively” on measures to ensure the continuation of the Common Travel Area (CTA).

The deal precedes Britain’s membership of the EU and allows citizens of both countries to live and work freely in either.

Dail Eireann centenary
Dail Eireann centenary

The ambassador wrote in a public letter: “I would like to reassure you that the UK and Irish governments have worked intensively on measures to ensure the continuation of the CTA.

“We have an agreement which is almost ready to sign.

“This work reflects the fact that, right from the start of the EU exit process, and throughout the negotiations, the Prime Minister has been clear that maintaining the UK and Ireland’s CTA is a top priority for the UK.”

He said the EU has fully accepted that the CTA – a bilateral arrangement – will continue whatever the final outcome of the negotiations.

“I can assure all British citizens living in Ireland and all Irish citizens in the UK: you don’t need to take any action to protect your status under the CTA, or the rights associated with it.”

The CTA is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the Crown Dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and Ireland that has its origins in the 1920s, before the UK or Ireland joined the EU.

The senior diplomat said it had never been codified into a coherent collection of documents.

He added: “So officials across the whole of government in both countries have worked together to create a solid framework for the CTA, to ensure that the rights and privileges UK and Irish nationals enjoy in each other’s countries will continue, whatever the circumstances of the UK’s exit from the EU.

“British citizens in Ireland and Irish citizens in the UK will continue to be able to live and work in each other’s countries, and to access healthcare, education, social welfare and benefits including state pensions.

“They will also still be able to vote in certain elections in the other’s country as they do now.

“The UK has taken steps to ensure legal certainty of the status of Irish citizens in the UK, and to provide clarity for them.”