The Common Travel Area is in safe hands

 

Sir, – A number of recent articles and opinion pieces have touched on the Common Travel Area (CTA): a unique arrangement which reflects the special relationship between the UK and Ireland.

The CTA is a long-standing arrangement between the UK, the crown dependencies (Jersey, Guernsey and the Isle of Man) and Ireland. It has its origins in the 1920s, long before either the UK or Ireland joined the EU, and ensures that British and Irish citizens can travel freely between both countries and live and work in either one.

Understandably, British citizens living here in Ireland, as well as Irish citizens living in the UK, may have questions about what the CTA will mean for their daily lives after the UK leaves the EU.

Right from the start of the EU exit process, and throughout the negotiations, the British prime minister, Theresa May, has been clear that maintaining the UK and Ireland’s Common Travel Area is a top priority for the UK.

The same is true for Ireland, and the EU has fully accepted that the CTA – a bilateral arrangement – will continue whatever the final outcome of the negotiations.

The British and Irish governments are working together to ensure that our citizens will be able to continue to access fully the rights they currently enjoy under the CTA, after the UK leaves the EU.

So what are those rights? 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, on the same basis as Irish and British citizens in their own countries. They will also still be able to vote in certain elections, as they do now.

Where we need new domestic legislation in the UK to ensure all of this can happen, my government is taking urgent action to put it in place.

The work being done by the UK and Ireland to ensure that the rights associated with the CTA continue to be protected is now at an advanced stage, and we expect to be able to give more details soon.

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

I advise British citizens living in Ireland to sign up to the UK living in Ireland guide (gov.uk/guidance/living-in-ireland) and the British embassy’s Twitter account @britembdublin for updates. – Yours, etc,

ROBIN BARNETT,

British Ambassador to Ireland,

Merrion Road,

Ballsbridge,

Dublin 4.