BREXIT: UK REVEALS DEAL FOR EX­PATS

Costa Levante News - - FRONT PAGE - By Dave Jones djones@cb­news.es

BRI­TAIN’S Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May set out her post-Brexit of­fer for EU cit­i­zens in Par­lia­ment on Mon­day.

At the same time, the Con­ser­va­tive gov­ern­ment pub­lished a 15-page pol­icy paper en­ti­tled ‘safe­guard­ing the po­si­tion of EU cit­i­zens in the UK and UK na­tion­als in the EU’ which gave more de­tails.

Mrs May stated that any fu­ture deal for Euro­pean cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK must be re­cip­ro­cal and give cer­tainty to Bri­tish ex­pats liv­ing on the con­ti­nent af­ter the UK leaves the EU.

How­ever, the EU’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor, Michel Barnier, tweeted ‘more am­bi­tion, clar­ity and guar­an­tees needed than in to­day’s UK po­si­tion’.

The pol­icy paper sets out 58 points which will form the ba­sis of ne­go­ti­a­tions with the EU. High­lights for ex­pats in Spain in­clude state­ments on health­care and pen­sions.

The UK gov­ern­ment notes that ‘our clear in­ten­tion’ dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions is to en­sure ex­pats con­tinue to en­joy cur­rent health­care ar­range­ments.

“Dur­ing ne­go­ti­a­tions, the UK will seek to pro­tect the health­care ar­range­ments cur­rently set out in EU Reg­u­la­tions and do­mes­tic UK law for UK na­tion­als and EU cit­i­zens who ben­e­fit from these ar­range­ments be­fore the spec­i­fied date,” they state.

“We will also seek to pro­tect the right of UK na­tion­als and EU cit­i­zens to ob­tain and ben­e­fit from the Euro­pean Health In­sur­ance Card scheme. This will en­sure that EU cit­i­zens are still el­i­gi­ble for NHS-funded health­care in the UK and vice versa for UK na­tion­als in the EU.”

The pol­icy paper then pro­vides an ex­am­ple of a fic­ti­tious Bri­tish ex­pat pen­sioner, in an at­tempt to give more clar­ity.

“Sarah is a UK na­tional who re­tired to Spain in 2005. She is draw­ing a UK state pen­sion and has a UK S1 form regis­tered in Spain. The S1 form is a stan­dard EU cer­tifi­cate which demon­strates an in­di­vid­ual’s en­ti­tle­ment to health­care in their coun­try of res­i­dence.

"In­di­vid­u­als are re­quired to reg­is­ter the S1 doc­u­ment in their new EU Mem­ber State of res­i­dence. This means that the UK re­im­burses Spain the cost of pro­vid­ing med­i­cal treat­ment to her. Sarah has a UK-is­sued EHIC, which she can use if needed dur­ing tem­po­rary vis­its to an­other EU coun­try (not the UK). Af­ter the UK leaves the EU, we want to se­cure Sarah’s cur­rent health­care en­ti­tle­ments so that they will con­tinue on the same ba­sis.”

The doc­u­ment also ad­dresses the ‘frozen pen­sion’ fear but falls short of giv­ing a cast-iron guarantee.

“UK law al­ready pro­vides that UK state pen­sions are payable to any­one el­i­gi­ble, wher­ever they re­side in the world,” they note.

“But an­nual in­creases to the UK state pen­sion (known as ‘up­rat­ing’) to any­one liv­ing in the EU are payable be­cause of EU law. The UK in­tends to con­tinue to ex­port and up­rate the UK state pen­sion within the EU, sub­ject to rec­i­proc­ity.”

Com­ment­ing on these is­sues, Va­len­cia-based Sue Wilson - chair of Bre­main in Spain, a group cam­paign­ing for the rights of Bri­tish cit­i­zens in Spain - said: “It’s un­likely that Brits who are se­ri­ously con­cerned about their fu­ture in the EU will have calmed down or been re­as­sured by what we’re hear­ing from the UK gov­ern­ment. Although hopes were raised on hear­ing May speak about the of­fer in Par­lia­ment, there was dis­ap­point­ment when we had the op­por­tu­nity to re­view the doc­u­ment in full.

“For ex­am­ple, May told the House of Com­mons that the UK would con­tinue to pro­vide health­care cover within the EU, but the phras­ing in the pol­icy paper only stated that the UK would ‘seek to pro­tect the health­care ar­range­ments’.

“It’s un­der­stand­able that many are find­ing it dif­fi­cult to take May's words at face value, or to feel that we are any closer to a res­o­lu­tion.”

‘Set­tled sta­tus’

The gov­ern­ment be­gins its pol­icy paper with the dec­la­ra­tion that ‘ our first pri­or­ity is to reach agree­ment on the pos­texit po­si­tion of EU cit­i­zens now liv­ing in the UK and of UK na­tion­als liv­ing in other EU coun­tries’.

“Over one mil­lion UK na­tion­als have moved to other coun­tries in the EU, and many have built their lives there,” they note. “Their abil­ity to stay, and for life to con­tinue much as it does now, de­pends on the agree­ment that is reached be­tween the UK and the EU.”

How­ever, ac­cord­ing to the pol­icy paper, EU cit­i­zens in the UK will have to ap­ply for new res­i­dence sta­tus – some­thing which may be re­cip­ro­cal for Bri­tons liv­ing in Europe.

“Af­ter our de­par­ture, it will be­come manda­tory to ap­ply for per­mis­sion to stay in the UK,” notes the doc­u­ment.

It con­tin­ues: “We guarantee that qual­i­fy­ing in­di­vid­u­als will be granted set­tled sta­tus in UK law (in­def­i­nite leave to re­main pur­suant to the Im­mi­gra­tion Act 1971). This means they will be free to re­side in any ca­pac­ity and un­der­take any law­ful ac­tiv­ity, to ac­cess public funds and ser­vices and to ap­ply for Bri­tish cit­i­zen­ship.”

To qual­ify, the EU cit­i­zen must have com­pleted a pe­riod of five years’ con­tin­u­ous res­i­dence in the UK ‘be­fore they ap­ply for set­tled sta­tus, at which point they must still be res­i­dent’.

“Those EU cit­i­zens who ar­rived and be­came res­i­dent be­fore the spec­i­fied date but who have not ac­crued five years’ con­tin­u­ous res­i­dence at the time of the UK’s exit will be able to ap­ply for tem­po­rary sta­tus in or­der to re­main res­i­dent in the UK un­til they have ac­cu­mu­lated five years, af­ter which they will be el­i­gi­ble to ap­ply for set­tled sta­tus,” they ex­plain. “Those EU cit­i­zens who ar­rived af­ter the spec­i­fied date will be al­lowed to re­main in the UK for at least a tem­po­rary pe­riod and may be­come el­i­gi­ble to set­tle per­ma­nently, depend­ing on their cir­cum­stances – but this group should have no ex­pec­ta­tion of guar­an­teed set­tled sta­tus.”

The doc­u­ment goes on to state: “The UK fully ex­pects that the EU and its mem­ber states will en­sure, in a re­cip­ro­cal way, that the rights set out above are sim­i­larly pro­tected for UK na­tion­als liv­ing across the EU be­fore the spec­i­fied date.

“Firstly, UK na­tion­als in the EU must be able to at­tain a right equiv­a­lent to set­tled sta­tus in the coun­try in which they re­side. Se­condly, they must be able to con­tinue to ac­cess ben­e­fits and ser­vices across the mem­ber states akin to the way in which they do now.”

Fees

The ap­pli­ca­tion for ‘set­tled sta­tus’ will not be free.

“We recog­nise the cost of the new scheme will be im­por­tant for EU na­tion­als,” notes the gov­ern­ment.

“The UK in­tends to set fees at a rea­son­able level. We will pub­lish fur­ther de­tails in due course.”

Timetable

The UK gov­ern­ment ‘does in­tend to in­tro­duce a vol­un­tary scheme to en­able el­i­gi­ble EU cit­i­zens to ap­ply for their per­mis­sion to stay and res­i­dence doc­u­ment be­fore the UK’s with­drawal from the EU’.

“This will en­able them to ob­tain their UK im­mi­gra­tion sta­tus at an early stage, should they wish to do so, in or­der to en­sure as smooth and ef­fi­cient a process as pos­si­ble for EU res­i­dents here,” they state.

“De­tails will be ad­ver­tised in due course.”

Theresa May said it will be 'manda­tory' for EU cit­i­zens to ap­ply for per­mis­sion to stay in UK

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