Unclear what rules will apply to EU citizens in Britain following Brexit


On 29 March 2019, Britain is expected to leave the EU, something that will affect the free movement of persons. Andrea Soldan, a lawyer specialising in EU law at the National Board of Trade Sweden, talks about the most important issues that need to be considered as a private individual.

The free movement of persons would continue for a transition period following Britain's exit from the EU, up until 31 December 2020. This is according to a withdrawal agreement between the EU and Britain.

However, this agreement was voted down in the British Parliament on 15 January. For now it is therefore unclear what rules will apply after 29 March 2019, when Britain is expected to leave the EU.

What are the different scenarios now, Andrea Soldan, EU law specialist at the National Board of Trade Sweden?

If Britain leaves the EU without an agreement on a transition period, Britain will be able to decide on the entry rules that will apply from 30 March 2019.

If the EU and Britain agree on transition provisions, this could mean that the current EU legislation concerning free movement for EU citizens will remain in force for a period of time. After this period, Britain would get to decide which rules to apply. The same is true for British citizens in the EU.

Another scenario is that Britain withdraws its withdrawal application. There would then be no changes to the conditions for EU citizens.

What will be the biggest differences for the movement of persons following Brexit?

The biggest difference is what will apply for EU citizens and their family members who choose to go to Britain after it has left the EU without any transition period (30 March 2019), or after a possible transition period. EU law will not apply anymore, instead Britain's national rules will apply. This means that they can set requirements for residence permits, work permits or visas for entry.

If a no-deal Brexit takes place, it is difficult to speculate on what will apply if you seek emergency medical care in Britain after 29 March. The European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will not be valid if no agreement is reached in this regard. I therefore recommend that you contact the authorities in Britain before any upcoming trip to ask if you need travel insurance instead.

How will Brexit impact the EU citizens who already live and work in Britain?

According to the withdrawal agreement, these citizens would have the same rights and restrictions as before Brexit and for as long as they choose to stay in Britain. As the agreement was voted down, however, it is unclear what will apply. Nevertheless, they may need to contact the relevant British authority and apply for status as "pre-settled" (up to five years) or as "settled" (if they have stayed for at least five consecutive years). This is done in Britain's so-called EU Settlement Scheme.

What will happen to the British people living and working in Sweden?

British citizens in Sweden will have one year to apply for a work or residence permit, up to and including 29 March 2020, in accordance with the Government's proposed amendment of the Aliens Act.

More information

Swedish Government´s information on Brexit
Proposed amendment of the Swedish Aliens Act (in Swedish)
National Board of Trade´s Brexit portal

Contact at the National Board of Trade

Andrea Soldan
Telephone: +46 8 690 4949

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National Board of Trade, P.O. Box 6803, SE-113 86 Stockholm. 
Visiting Address: Drottninggatan 89. 
Phone: +46 8 690 48 00     Fax: +46 8 30 67 59


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