Will Survive Brexit
The Common Travel Area applies as between the United Kingdom, the Republic of Ireland, the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man. It reflects the fact that the Republic of Ireland formerly comprised part of the United Kingdom. Even after Ireland declared itself a republic in 1949, UK law specifically enacted that Ireland is not a foreign country for legal purposes.
The Common Travel Area will remain as an exception to the general position as between the United Kingdom and European Union citizens post Brexit. A key objective of Brexit is ending free movement of persons between the European Union and the United Kingdom.
However despite disagreement over the Withdrawal Agreement on the issue of the Northern Ireland border, the EU, United Kingdom and Ireland have agreed that the principles of the Common Travel Area will remain in place, even in the case of a hard Brexit and an acrimonious separation from the EU.
The Common Travel Area reflects the fact that many Republic of Ireland citizens have the deepest family and personal ties with the United Kingdom and that many persons in both Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland have a common Irish and United Kingdom heritage.
The CTA reinforces and supports the fact that the UK and Irish labour market have remained as one since the separation of the states. Although in earlier years this largely manifested itself in immigration to the United Kingdom from the Republic of Ireland, this has largely changed in recent years. There are now almost as many UK born nationals in the Republic of Ireland as there are the Republic of Ireland born nationals in the UK notwithstanding that the population of the UK is over 10 times of Ireland. UK born nationals comprise over 4% of the population of the Republic of Ireland.
Scope of the Common Travel Area
The Common Travel Area is much more than a right to travel. It allows British and Irish citizens to take up residence in the other state with immediate settled status. It allows citizens of each state to work in the other including work on a self-employed basis without any permission.
It is recognised in the recent memorandum of understanding that the recognition of qualifications, including professional qualifications, is an essential facilitator of the right to work. Ireland and UK are committed to ensuring that their respective jurisdictions will provide comprehensive measures to continue to be in place, to allow for the recognition of such qualifications including all relevant professions in accordance with the national laws.
The CTA affords British citizens residing in Ireland and Irish citizens residing in the UK the right to access emergency, routine and planned publicly funded health services in each other’s state, on the same basis as citizens of that state.
The CTA affords British citizens residing or working in Ireland and Irish citizens residing or working in the UK, social security rights in each other’s state. They are entitled, when in the other state, to the same social security rights, and are subject to the same obligations, as citizens of that state.
The CTA affords British citizens residing in Ireland, and Irish citizens residing in the UK, the right to access social housing, including supported housing and homeless assistance, in each other’s state, on the same basis as citizens of that state.
The CTA affords British and Irish citizens the right to access all levels of education and training, and associated student support, in each other’s state, on terms no less favourable than those for the citizens of that state.
British citizens residing in Ireland, and Irish citizens residing in the UK, are entitled to register to vote with the relevant authorities for local and national parliamentary elections in each other’s state, on the same basis as citizens of that state. Upon reaching voting age, these citizens are entitled to vote in those elections on the same basis as citizens in that state.