Loss of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary status

Withdrawal Agreement beneficiaries cannot lose their status for any other reasons than those set out in the Withdrawal Agreement.

Loss of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary status is possible broadly on the same grounds as the loss of residence rights under Directive 2004/38/EC:

-Beneficiaries lose their rights when they cease to meet the relevant conditions set out in Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement (Article 39 of the Withdrawal Agreement). In contrast to EU free movement law, Article 15(3) of the Withdrawal Agreement provides that the right of permanent residence should be lost only through absence from the host State for a period exceeding five consecutive.

-Status may be withdrawn on grounds of public policy, public security and public health in line with Chapter VI of the Directive where the relevant conduct occurred either before the end of the transition period or after the end of the transition period (Article 7 (1) b of No. 4000/1/113-a’ Joint Ministerial Decree implementing Article 20(1) and 20(2) WA).

After the end of the transition period and once a person has obtained Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary status, periods of imprisonment without parole do not, in themselves, equate to the loss of Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary status. If the behavior for which the prison sentence was imposed meets the relevant threshold of Article 7 (1) b of No. 4000/1/113-a’ Joint Ministerial Decree, Greece may take a restriction decision. However, where the threshold is not met, the period of imprisonment will only have the effect of interrupting the Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary’s continuity of residence for the purpose of acquiring a right of permanent residence, such as required by Article 15(2) of the Withdrawal Agreement. After release from prison, the Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary concerned will be able to build up a new period of five years of continuous residence.

Article 20(3) enable Greece to adopt the necessary measures to refuse, terminate or withdraw any right conferred by Part Two of the Withdrawal Agreement in the case of abuse or fraud, as set out in Article 35 of Directive 2004/38/EC (Article 7 (1) c of No. 4000/1/113-a’ Joint Ministerial Decree).

The procedural safeguards provided for in Article 21 of the Withdrawal Agreement, which refers to Article 15 and Chapter VI of Directive 2004/38/EC, apply in all of the above cases. In line with the CJEU’s established case law on the general principles of EU law, restriction decisions must comply also with the principle of proportionality and fundamental rights, such as the right to family life. This means that a proportionality assessment always needs to take place when considering the loss of status.