Czech gov’t approves plan for British expats

The Interior Ministry drafted a bill for reciprocal rights in a no-deal Brexit

The Czech Republic is making preparations for British expats in case of a no-deal Brexit. A bill to deal with the potential situation was approved by the government Jan. 7. The Ministry of Interior drafted the bill in case the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without an agreement on March 29, 2019.

The special legislation reciprocally guarantees the rights of British citizens in the Czech Republic and is also aimed to ensure the best position of Czechs living in the UK, Interior Ministry press and PR manager Klára Pěknicová said in a statement on the Interior Ministry website.

The draft law was prepared by the Ministry of the Interior in coordination with other ministries. It is intended to help prevent serious complications with work permits or health and social systems for British citizens and Czech institutions during the transition period from March 30, 2019, to December 31, 2020.

Without the adoption of special legislation, approximately 8,000 UK citizens legally residing in the Czech Republic would have been in the same position as foreign nationals from outside the European Union, or so-called third countries, as of March 30, 2019.

“If we did not approve the law, we would endanger about 40,000 Czech citizens living in Britain. We definitely do not want that,” "Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (ČSSD) said.

He added that if the Czech Republic did not guarantee the rights of British citizens, there would be a threat to the conditions for Czech citizens in the United Kingdom.

He stressed, however, that the proposed measures depend on reciprocity from the British side.

The law deals with questions connected to stay, marriage, acquisition of citizenship of the Czech Republic, access to the labor market, public health insurance, existing supplementary pension and building savings, as well as the status of colleges, students and academics, direct taxes, and recognition of professional qualifications.

The law will become effective if the United Kingdom withdraws from the European Union without an agreement. If the agreement on the UK's withdrawal from the European Union under Article 50 (2) of the Treaty on European Union is subsequently concluded before Dec. 31, 2020, the law will cease to apply.

If such a settlement does not take place, the legal status of British individuals will be governed by the generally applicable rules for third-country nationals and legal entities from Dec. 31, 2020, in the Czech Republic.

Brexit, short for British exit, is the withdrawal of Britain from the European Union. The idea was narrowly approved in a referendum on June 23, 2016.

After more than two years of negotiations, the European Union has set out the conditions for the UK leaving the bloc. European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker in November 2018 said it was “the only deal possible” and has declined further negotiations.

The British Parliament, however, has not yet voted to accept the deal. If the deal is rejected and there is no second referendum or legal change to stop Brexit, then the UK will leave them with no deal.

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