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BREXIT

Brexit: What are the main differences between a deal and a no deal for Brits in the EU?

Do you know how a no-deal Brexit would affect your lives in the EU differently to a divorce based on an amicable agreement? Here the British in Europe campaign group spells out the main distinction.

Brexit: What are the main differences between a deal and a no deal for Brits in the EU?
Photo: Depositphotos

Deal

The Withdrawal Agreement (“WA”) sets out our rights fairly fully, though there remains considerable uncertainty as to the implementation of those rights if the agreement is ever ratified. 

There is, for example, still no final list of which countries are opting for a constitutive system of re-registration (Britons would have to re-register for a new residence status after Brexit) under Art. 18.1 of the WA as opposed to the declaratory option under Art. 18.4 (re-registration would not be obligatory).

READ ALSO:

No Deal

Grace period: Most EU27 countries have opted for a “grace period” immediately following Brexit, during which most of our EU rights within each host country (i.e. excluding free movement) are said to continue.  The length of the period and the clarity over what these rights will be varies enormously.   

Not all countries have provided details, let alone legislation, on our status and rights following the grace period for example Germany has not. (The German government did announce this week it was adopting a new law on a no-deal Brexit that still needs to pass the parliament).

Those resident in their present host country for less than 5 years:  Here the Commission has not recommended any particular approach, so each country has to formulate its own approach, usually based on its national immigration law for those resident less than 5 years.  There are great variations as between the countries, and a considerable degree of uncertainty even where legislation has been promulgated.

READ ALSO: The ultimate Brexit no-deal checklist for Brits in Spain

Those resident in their host country for 5 or more years:  Here, in addition to national immigration law, the situation is covered by the EU Long Term Residence Directive (“LTR Directive”), which the Commission has encouraged Member States to apply to UKinEU on the basis that their past residence whilst EU citizens should count towards the necessary 5 years.  The main differences between this EU Directive and the WA are:

  • Pre-Brexit absences permitted when applying for long-term residence: before Brexit anyone who has resided in their host state for 5 years is entitled to ‘permanent residence’, a status with enhanced rights: they can be absent for up to 2 yearswithout losing it.  Under the LTR Directive the same person will be denied the enhanced LTR status if they have been absent for a total of 10 months in the previous 5 years.  So permanent residents who have exercised their legal right to be away for up to 2 years pre-Brexit will, by a retrospective rule change, be denied the equivalent long-term status post-Brexit.
  • Absences once you have acquired LTR status: an absence of 1 year from the EU (which of course will include any period in the UK) will be enough to deprive you of any right to remain under the EU’s No Deal contingency plans.  This contrasts with 5 years absence for those with permanent residence under the WA.
  • Conditions for acquiring the new status: the LTR Directive requires States to impose conditions as to available resources and sickness insurance, and they can also require tests of language and knowledge of the country.  The latter tests cannot be required under the WA and the other conditions are more onerous under the LTR  than their equivalents under the WA.
  • Employment: Under the WA UKinEU have equal treatment rights with nationals of the host state.  Under the LTR Directive States may exclude UKinEU from jobs which are reserved to nationals of the State or EU/EEA citizens.  Such jobs include many presently held by British citizens in the public sector, such as teaching.
  • Recognition of qualifications: post-Brexit, UKinEU LTRs will only have the right to equal treatment with nationals under any national scheme for the recognition of qualifications, not under the EU scheme (though pre-Brexit recognitions will continue to be valid in most sectors).  Under the WA the EU scheme would continue to apply to those whose qualifications were recognised, or in the process of being so, by the end of the transition period.
  • Education and training: in contrast to the WA, access to education and training for LTRs may be made subject to language tests, and study grants will only be available in accordance with national law, not EU law.
  • Social security and health care: under the WA the existing systems for reciprocal health care and for social security coordination (including aggregation of pension contributions made in different States) continues.  In a No Deal scenario these come to an end, though some minimal bridging arrangements are proposed.  For UK pensioners this means that their pensions will be frozen at their present value (the WA would prevent this), and vital S1 healthcare (also protected by the WA) comes to an end for all those who are not receiving “or have applied for” treatment at Brexit.
  • Family reunification: the range of people with whom reunification is possible is more limited under the LTR Directive than under the WA (close family).

In addition, and most worryingly, the implementation of the EU LTR Directive in many countries was criticised as “deplorable” in 2011 by the Commission itself, and reform is still under consideration.

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BREXIT

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

With ongoing uncertainty over whether UK driving licences will continue to be recognised in Italy beyond the end of this year, British residents are asking where they stand.

Driving licences: Are the UK and Italy any closer to reaching an agreement?

Many of The Local’s British readers have been in touch recently to ask whether any progress has been made in negotiations between the UK and Italy on a reciprocal agreement on the use of driving licences.

If you’re reading this article, there’s a good chance that you’re familiar with the background of this Brexit consequence.

READ ALSO: Frustration grows as UK driving licence holders in Italy wait in limbo

When Britain left the EU there was no reciprocal agreement in place, but UK licence holders living in Italy were granted a grace period in which they could continue to drive on their British licences. This period was later extended to the current deadline of December 31st, 2022.

The situation beyond that date however remains unclear, and concern is growing among the sizeable number of British nationals living in Italy who say no longer being allowed to drive would be a serious problem.

There was the option of exchanging licences before the end of 2021, but many didn’t make the deadline. As has been proven before, this was often not due to slackness but rather all manner of circumstances, from having moved to Italy after or shortly before the cut-off date to bureaucratic delays.

Driving licences: How does the situation for Brits in Italy compare to rest of Europe?

So is an agreement any closer? Or do those driving in Italy on a UK licence really need to go to the considerable trouble and expense of sitting an Italian driving test (in Italian)?

With five months left to go, there’s still no indication as to whether a decision will be made either way.

The British government continues to advise licence holders to sit their Italian driving test – while also stressing that they’re working hard on reaching a deal, which would make taking the test unnecessary.

This message has not changed.

On Wednesday, July 27th, British Ambassador to Italy Ed Llewellyn tweeted after a meeting with Italian Infrastructure and Transport Minister Enrico Giovannini: “The British and Italian governments continue to work towards an agreement on exchange of driving licences.”

But the ambassador earlier this month advised UK nationals “not to wait” and to “take action now by applying for an Italian licence”.

In an official newsletter published in mid-July, Llewellyn acknowledged the concerns of British residents and confirmed that negotiations are still going on.

“I know that many of you are understandably concerned about whether your UK driving licence will continue to be recognised in Italy, especially when the extension granted by Italy until 31 December 2022 for such recognition expires.

“Let me set out where things stand. The British Government is working to reach an agreement with Italy on the right to exchange a licence without the need for a test. 

READ ALSO:  Do you have to take Italy’s driving test in Italian?

“The discussions with our Italian colleagues are continuing and our objective is to try to reach an agreement in good time before the end of the year.

“We hope it will be possible to reach an agreement – that is our objective and we are working hard to try to deliver it. 

Nevertheless, he said, “our advice is not to wait to exchange your licence.”

“If you need to drive in Italy, you can take action now by applying for an Italian licence. This will, however, involve taking a practical and theory test.” 

He acknowledged that “the process is not a straightforward one and that there are delays in some areas to book an appointment for a test”.

READ ALSO: ‘Anyone can do it’: Why passing your Italian driving test isn’t as difficult as it sounds

“We will continue to work towards an agreement,” he wrote. “That is our objective and it is an objective we share with our Italian colleagues.“

The British Embassy in Rome had not responded to The Local’s requests for further comment on Friday.

The Local will continue to publish any news on the recognition of British driving licences in Italy. See the latest updates in our Brexit-related news section here.

Find more information on the UK government website’s Living in Italy section.

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