BREXIT - HEALTH­CARE AGREE­MENT FOR EX­PATS

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By Dave Jones djones@cb­news.es

THE THIRD round of EU exit ne­go­ti­a­tions in Brus­sels ended last week with Brexit sec­re­tary David Davis MP promis­ing that a deal had been reached over health­care and cit­i­zens’ rights.

In his clos­ing re­marks, Mr Davis – the head of the UK’s depart­ment for ex­it­ing the Euro­pean Union – stated that his team and that of EU chief ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier had en­gaged in ‘long and de­tailed dis­cus­sions across mul­ti­ple ar­eas’.

“I think it is fair to say that we have seen some con­crete progress,” he said.

Mr Davis said both sides agreed 'that we should at least pro­tect ex­ist­ing health­care rights and ar­range­ments for EU27 cit­i­zens in the UK and UK na­tion­als in the EU. The EHIC ar­range­ments'.

He con­tin­ued: “That is good news for ex­am­ple for Bri­tish pen­sion­ers in the EU: it means that they will con­tinue to have their health­care ar­range­ments pro­tected both where they live and – when they travel to another Mem­ber State – to be able to use an EHIC card.”

The tech­ni­cal note pub­lished by the UK and EU fol­low­ing the com­ple­tion of the third round of talks states: “Per­sons whose com­pe­tent state is the UK and are in the EU27 on exit day (and vice versa) - whether on a tem­po­rary stay or res­i­dent - con­tinue to be el­i­gi­ble for health­care re­im­burse­ment, in­clud­ing un­der the EHIC scheme, as long as that po­si­tion con­tin­ues.”

Mr Davis also stated that they had agreed to ‘cover fu­ture so­cial se­cu­rity con­tri­bu­tions for those cov­ered by the With­drawal Agree­ment’.

In his speech, Mr Barnier noted that they ‘have clar­i­fied a few points this week’ on cit­i­zens’ rights, ‘but we need to go fur­ther to re­as­sure cit­i­zens’.

He added: “Over the sum­mer, around one hun­dred EU and EEA cit­i­zens liv­ing law­fully in the UK re­ceived de­por­ta­tion let­ters. The UK gov­ern­ment quickly recog­nised that this was a mis­take. But this is not the first time that some­thing like this has hap­pened. It re­in­forces the need to en­sure that cit­i­zens’ rights are directly en­force­able in front of na­tional ju­ris­dic­tions, un­der the con­trol of the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice, a point on which we dis­agree to­day.”

No fur­ther de­tails on these is­sues had been pro­vided by the UK gov­ern­ment or the EU at the time of go­ing to press.

Both sides had stated ear­lier this year that they wanted to strike an ‘early deal’ on ex­pats’ rights which would see guar­an­tees thrashed out be- fore the con­clu­sion of Brexit ne­go­ti­a­tions.

Mr Davis also noted that in the field of eco­nomic rights, ‘we have se­cured the right of Bri­tish cit­i­zens in the EU27 to set up and man­age a busi­ness within their Mem­ber State of res­i­dence, and of course visa versa’.

“On mu­tual recog­ni­tion of qual­i­fi­ca­tions, we have made progress in pro­tect­ing the recog­ni­tion of qual­i­fi­ca­tions for Bri­tish cit­i­zens res­i­dent in the EU27 and EU27 cit­i­zens in the UK,” he said.

Mr Davis also ad­mit­ted that there are big dif­fer­ences be­tween the two sides over the fi­nan­cial set­tle­ment, also known as the ‘di­vorce bill’.

“I think we have suc­ceeded in building mu­tual un­der­stand­ing, but it is also clear that there are still sig­nif­i­cant dif­fer­ences to be bridged,” he said.

On Ire­land and North­ern Ire­land, Mr Davis stated: “We had a good dis­cus­sion on main­tain­ing the Com­mon Travel Area and on safe­guard­ing the Good Fri­day Agree­ment, on the ba­sis of the UK pa­per.

“We think there is a high de­gree of con­ver­gence on these key is­sues, and we agreed to work up shared prin­ci­ples on the Com­mon Travel Area.”

In his clos­ing re­marks Mr Davis stated: “The third round of talks have been pro­duc­tive and are an im­por­tant step­ping stone and key building block for dis­cus­sions to come.

“We are peel­ing away the lay­ers, one by one, work­ing through many is­sues at speed, and mov­ing to­wards the core of these im­por­tant mat­ters.

“We have locked in points of agree­ment and un­picked ar­eas of di­ver­gence.”

How­ever, Mr Barnier was at pains to stress that ‘ we made no de­ci­sive progress on the main sub­jects, even though – and I want to say so – the dis­cus­sion on Ire­land was fruit­ful’.

He added: “But, I re­peat again, time is pass­ing quickly for us to reach a global agree­ment. At the cur­rent speed, we are far from be­ing able to rec­om­mend to the Euro­pean Coun­cil that there has been suf­fi­cient progress in or­der to start dis­cus­sions on the fu­ture re­la­tion­ship, while we are fi­nal­is­ing the with­drawal agree­ment through­out 2018.”

Mr Barnier also warned against any at­tempt by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment to try to ne­go­ti­ate with in­di­vid­ual EU coun­tries, as was touted in the UK last week.

“Those who look for the slight­est dif­fer­ence be­tween what this Euro­pean ne­go­ti­at­ing team is do­ing and what Mem­ber States want are wast­ing their time,” he said.

On the Sin­gle Mar­ket, he stated: “The UK wants to take back con­trol, it wants to adopt its own stan­dards and reg­u­la­tions.

“But it also wants to have these stan­dards recog­nised au­to­mat­i­cally in the EU. That is what UK pa­pers ask for. This is sim­ply im­pos­si­ble. You can­not be out­side the Sin­gle Mar­ket and shape its le­gal or­der.”

How­ever, Mr Barnier recog­nised the ‘en­gage­ment’ on both sides and said he wanted to reach an agree­ment for the re­main­ing 27 coun­tries.

“Once again, time is pass­ing very quickly, and if re­quired, we are ready on our side – the 27 EU Mem­ber States and the Euro­pean In­sti­tu­tions, to step up the pace of ne­go­ti­a­tions,” he said.

Photo: EFE

David Davis (left) with Michel Barnier last week

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