UK & Irish governments reach agreement on the future of the Common Travel Area

(Title Image: Irish Times)

The UK and Irish governments have agreed to continue to uphold the Common Travel Area (pdf).

The Common Travel Area predates the European Union and enables citizens living in the UK, Republic of Ireland, Isle of Man and the Channel Islands to enjoy certain rights and privileges in each other’s respective nations or territories.

The memorandum of understanding, which was signed on May 8th 2019, will mean citizens residing within the Common Travel Area (CTA) can:

  • Reside and move freely between nations under the CTA.
  • Work without seeking permission and enjoy mutual recognition of qualifications.
  • Access health care, social housing or social security on the same basis and under the same obligations as a citizen of that particular state.
  • Vote in local and national elections on the same basis as a citizen of that particular state.

Rights under the CTA are very similar to rights to freedom of movement within the EU though, importantly, this doesn’t extend to freedom of movement of good and services – so the CTA wouldn’t eliminate the need for border or customs checks at the UK-Irish border under a “Hard Brexit”.