Thousands of British citizens have been ordered to leave EU member states since the end of the Brexit transition period, according to official data.
Eurostat figures published in the Guardian show a total of 2,285 UK nationals were expelled from 1st January 2021, when British citizens lost their free movement rights within the EU, until the third quarter of last year.
Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement, UK citizens who were legally resident in one of the EU’s 27 member states at the end of the transition period on 31st December 2020 were eligible for permanent residence, protecting their basic rights.
Fourteen countries, including Spain, Germany, Portugal and Italy, opted for systems automatically conferring a new post-Brexit residence status on legally resident Britons, with no risk of losing rights if any administrative deadline is missed.
The remaining 13, however, required UK nationals to formally apply for their new post-Brexit residence status, with many setting cut-off dates.
Split by country, Eurostat data shows Sweden accounted for nearly half (1,050) of all British citizens ordered to leave over the period and the Netherlands almost a third (615).
Malta told 115 UK nationals to leave its territory, France 95, Belgium 65, Denmark 40, Germany 25 and Austria 10, while some countries with large populations of British residents, including Spain, Portugal and Italy, reported no expulsion orders.
Experts cautioned that the data did not specify why people were ordered to leave so not all expulsions may have been related to residency restrictions, but said the figures amounted to “the starkest possible reminder” of the consequences of Brexit.
“British citizens are now third-country nationals in the EU and as such are subject to domestic immigration laws,” said Prof Michaela Benson of Lancaster University, who has co-led several research projects on post-Brexit migration, citizenship and identity.
Benson said the contrasts most likely reflected domestic policy differences on immigration, registration requirements, and recording and reporting. “Denmark obviously has a notoriously tough approach to all immigration,” she said.