The Court of Justice of the European Union has dismissed the appeals filed by British citizens challenging the loss of their rights as European citizens as a result of Brexit.
Consequences of Brexit for British citizens
Following the British referendum held in 2016, a majority of voters decided for the United Kingdom’s exit from the European Union. As a result, the United Kingdom notified the European Council of its intention to withdraw from the Union. Representatives of the United Kingdom and the Union therefore signed the Agreement on the Withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the Union and the European Atomic Energy Community (“Brexit Agreement”) on January 24th, 2020. The Council of the Union approved this agreement by decision on January 30th, 2020 and finally the United Kingdom withdrew from the Union on January 31st, 2020.
As the main consequence of Brexit, British citizens have lost their status as citizens of the Union and, therefore, also the rights associated with that status. This has several implications in the area of Italian law, for example concerning immigration and required documentation.
Immigration compliance for British citizens and their family members
Following Brexit, the rules regarding the mobility of British citizens in Italy have changed slightly, in fact they have lost their EU citizenship and free movement rights, so they are subject to immigration laws intended for non-EU citizens. Italian immigration law can be difficult to navigate, but the good news is that Studio Arletti can support you in all procedures.
Under current immigration regulations, British citizens can stay in Italy for up to 90 days out of 180 as visa-exempt for tourism, study or business purposes. However, to stay in Italy for longer periods or to carry out work activities, they must obtain an entry visa prior to their arrival in our country and, after arrival, they must apply for the relevant residence permit.
For those who wish to work in Italy, there are several types of work visas available, for instance:
- Subordinate employment visa;
- Self-employment visa;
- Work visa under service agreement for service provision.
In addition to work visas, other types of visas are available such as:
- Elective residence visa;
- Investor visa;
- Study and internship visa;
- Family visa.
In addition, according to Italian regulations, some types of residence permits can be converted, such as from study reasons to work reasons.
Documents required for British citizens and their family members
During the immigration process to Italy, British citizens may be required to provide personal documents such as:
- Documents proving family status (i.e. marriage certificate; birth certificate);
- Declaration of value on one’s educational qualification – required, for instance, in case of enrollment in university or continuation of postgraduate studies or for obtaining a Blue Card work permit.
In order to be valid in Italy, these documents must first be legalized, in the country where they were issued, and then translated into Italian, unless they were issued in multilingual format.
In addition, certain restrictions also apply to driving with vehicles holding a foreign plates and with British driving licenses, that are considered for all intents and purposes as licenses issued by non-EU countries.
Recognition of professional qualifications obtained in the UK
Following Brexit, the European Commission has issued some guidance regarding the recognition of professional qualifications obtained in the United Kingdom so that they can be considered valid in Europe.
The possibility of having a professional qualification recognized, however, depends on several factors including:
- Whether the qualification had been obtained before December 31st, 2020
- Whether the qualification had been obtained after December 31st, 2020
- Whether the holder of the qualification falls within the personal scope of the withdrawal agreement
- Whether the holder of the qualification is not within the personal scope of the withdrawal agreement
For more information regarding your specific case, please check our dedicated article or contact us.
Similarly, British immigration rules have changed with regards to the immigration of EU nationals who wish to work or make the UK their place of residence.
Appeal filed by British citizens
In view of the loss of their status as citizens of the Union and thus loss of the multiple rights connected to this status, a number of British citizens residing in the United Kingdom and in EU countries opted to take action before the General Court, challenging the Brexit agreement and the Council decision.
These citizens contested, among other things, that this agreement had the effect of depriving them of the rights they had exercised and acquired as citizens of the Union.
Decision of the Court of appeal
In three judgments, the Court of Justice of the European Union has dismissed the appeals brought by British citizens against the Court’s orders.
Specifically, the Court claims that the decision to withdraw falls exclusively within the sphere of the will of the member state concerned, subject to its constitutional rules, and thus depends solely on its sovereign choice.
Therefore, for these British citizens, the loss of their status as citizens of the Union and, consequently, the loss of the rights attached to this status, is an automatic consequence of the sole sovereign decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the Union, and not of the withdrawal agreement or the Council decision. The Court therefore concluded that these British citizens had no legal interest in bringing the action and that the general Court therefore correctly dismissed their appeals as inadmissible.