Common Travel Area Formally Outlined

16 May 2019

An agreement has been signed by the British and Irish Governments which for the first time puts the Common Travel Area (“CTA”) on a formal footing. The Common Travel Area is an arrangement in operation since 1924 which provides a right for Irish and UK citizens to travel freely between the two jurisdictions. The CTA therefore predates both Irish and UK membership of the EU and is not contingent upon the UK’s continuing membership. The CTA also affords various other rights which include a right of access to social benefits, health care and social housing.

Given the economic, political and historic relationship between the two countries the maintenance of the CTA is deemed to be vital in the face of the unprecedented challenge of Brexit and both Ireland and the UK have been committed to maintaining the CTA in all circumstances. The newly agreed policy framework sets out to guarantee the current benefits of the CTA as well as providing that both Governments will work on new arrangements so that citizens of both countries will have equal access to public health and education services.

The agreement arrives in the context of the ongoing Brexit negotiations and will be unaffected regardless of what the status of the relationship between the UK and the EU is post Brexit. Both the EU and UK have recognised the CTA in the negotiations, and it has been accepted that Ireland and the UK may seek to make arrangements relating to the free movement of persons between their territories.

For further information contact David Cantrell, Immigration Partner or another member of the Immigration Team at Eugene F. Collins.

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