New Organisation to Protect EU Citizens Post-Brexit

30/12/2020 The Hon Neil F Costa

A new, independent body set to protect the rights of EU citizens living and working in the UK and Gibraltar launched in Swansea at midnight on the 31st December 2020 as the transitional regime covering the exit of the UK and Gibraltar from the EU ended.

Sponsored by the UK Ministry of Justice, the Independent Monitoring Authority for the Citizens’ Rights Agreements (IMA) will be responsible for advocating for the effective application of citizen’s rights. Additionally, the IMA has the authority to review complaints, launch inquiries and take legal action for eligible individuals, including:

  • EU and EEA EFTA citizens (citizens of Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway) and their families;
  • Frontier workers in the UK and their families (i.e. EU and EEA EFTA citizens who work in the UK but live elsewhere);
  • UK nationals and their families who derive rights from the citizens’ rights part of the Withdrawal Agreement and EEA EFTA Separation Agreement; and
  • anyone who has equivalent rights to those contained in the Withdrawal Agreement or EEA EFTA Separation Agreement as a result of their eligibility to claim settled status.

The IMA will operate alongside the UK and Gibraltar governments and parliaments, in addition to advocacy groups, charities and regulatory bodies with the aim of elucidating the body’s role. Conversely, complaints and intelligence given by representatives will play their own role in highlighting issues affecting day-to-day living.

Citizens who register with the EU Settlement Scheme by 30th June 2021 will retain the rights afforded to them pre-Brexit (and subsequently the right to remain in the UK/Gibraltar), providing they were resident there by 31st December 2020.

Equally, British nationals (including Gibraltarians) residing in an EU Member State (including Spain), an EEA State, or Switzerland on 31st December 2020 will also be able to retain those EU rights in accordance with the Withdrawal Agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement includes rights such as residence, the right to work, recognition of professional qualifications and social security. Under the declaratory residence scheme, EEA residents covered by the Withdrawal Agreement will automatically be identified as residents of Gibraltar without the need to apply for a new residence status.

Neil Costa, the senior human rights partner at ISOLAS commented: “As we enter 2021, and as the transition period ends, many EU citizens living or working in Gibraltar may be concerned as to their, and their families’, rights.  Whilst Her Majesty’s Government of Gibraltar has worked diligently to allay such concerns, individual circumstances are different.   It is, therefore, excellent that the IMA covers Gibraltar as well as the U.K. in protecting those citizens’ rights.”

If you do have any concerns as regards your circumstances please contact Neil Costa at

More insights View all news and insights