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Policy actions  2 of 4

EU and EEA citizens in Scotland

We believe that remaining in the EU and the single market, and continuing to benefit from the free movement of persons, is in the best interests of Scotland and the UK as a whole. Not only does Scotland (and the UK) benefit enormously from the contribution made by citizens of other EU countries, but we also benefit from the opportunity that free movement gives to Scots to live and work in other EU countries.

We are particularly concerned about protecting the rights of family members of EU citizens, the processes of applying for new settled status in the UK, and continued access to independent judicial redress. More detail on our position can be found in the First Minister's letter to EU citizens in Scotland.

We will do all we can to support the 235,000 EU citizens living in Scotland through this difficult time, and we will continue to push the UK Government to do the same.

EU and EEA citizens' rights

We recognise that this is a difficult time for EU and EEA citizens living in Scotland, many of whom have lived here for decades and built lives here with their families. EU and EEA citizens are understandably concerned about their future rights and status.

On 19 March 2018 the UK and EU27 jointly published a draft legal text on the Withdrawal Agreement which indicated that agreement had been reached at negotiators' level on issues related to EU citizens' rights. The draft legal text includes a transition period of 21 months after the UK leaves the EU on 29 March 2019. The draft agreement now extends to EU citizens and their families who come to the UK during this transition period. You can find the full text of the draft agreement here.

On the 15 June 2018 Cabinet Secretary for External Affairs Fiona Hyslop and Welsh Cabinet Secretary for Finance Mark Drakeford wrote a joint letter to Home Secretary Sajid Javid to highlight shared concerns over the EU Settlement Scheme. They expressed their concerns about people who may be at risk of missing out on settled status simply due to being unable to, or unaware that they can and need to apply.

On 21 June 2018 the UK Government provided details on the Settlement Scheme for EU citizens.

The Home Office published an employer toolkit on 25 July 2018 to provide employers with the information to support EU citizens on the EU Settlement Scheme.

Actions we have taken to date

We want EU and EEA citizens and their families to continue to make their lives here in Scotland. We have set out our position in Scotland's Place in Europe and in Scotland's Place in Europe: People, Jobs and Investment, Both make it clear that we believe the UK should remain in the European Single Market and continue to benefit from the free movement of people.

The First Minister, in her open letter to EU citizens immediately after the referendum, called on the UK Government to provide assurances that those living here would have their rights protected and to make it clear that Scotland remains a stable and open place to live, study, work and do business.

Scottish Ministers and officials are meeting with EU citizens and their families across the country to listen to their views and concerns. We have now held public events with EU citizens  in Fife, Dundee, Glasgow,  Ayrshire and Aberdeen.

In response to the UK Government's paper setting out their negotiating position on citizens' rights, we published our position paper, Protecting the rights of EU citizens, in July 2017.

We also published our response to the UK Government's call for evidence on the contribution of EEA citizens to the UK labour market on 8 November 2017. This is underpinned by the latest data and analysis on the contribution of EEA workers to Scotland and shows that that EU citizens working in Scotland contribute £4.42 billion a year to Scotland's GDP.

We are committed to providing as much clarity as possible about the consequences of Brexit, and how we can protect your rights. Our aim is to assure EU/EEA citizens that their voices and concerns are not being ignored. We will be doing all we can to make sure that Scotland's voice is heard in the negotiations and that all our interests are protected. As long as the UK Government remains determined to leave the EU, the Scottish Government will continue to make the case for EU citizens' rights at every opportunity.

We also argued in our recent discussion paper Scotland's Population Needs and Migration Policy: Discussion Paper on Evidence, Policy and Powers for the Scottish Parliament for powers over migration so that we can have migration policies which meet the particular needs of Scotland, for example ensuring we have the labour we desperately need to give us the best economic prospects in the future.


UK Government resources

EU documents on Brexit negotiations with the UK:

Legal assistance