Czech MPs pass bill on Britons' rights for hard Brexit

23. 1. 2019

The Chamber of Deputies, the lower house of Czech parliament, passed a government bill for the case of hard Brexit, under which Britons would have the same rights as EU citizens in the Czech Republic until the end of 2020, in an accelerated regime in the first reading today.

The legislation would only be applied if Britain left the EU without any agreement with Brussels.

The Senate, the upper house, is now to assess the bill.

The British MPs rejected the EU-Britain Brexit deal last week, and further steps are being debated now. Britain is to leave the EU as of March 29.

Without the respective legislation, Britons living in the Czech Republic would be in the same position as citizens from the countries outside the EU in the case of hard Brexit. This would affect some 5,000 Britons workings on the Czech labour market.

Some 8,000 UK citizens in total stay in the Czech Republic legally at present.

Brexit will also influence the life of Czechs in Britain where between 40,000 and 100,000 of them live according to various estimates.

In the debate preceding the vote today, lawmakers mainly asked whether Britain has pledged reciprocity in relation to the Czech bill, i.e. reciprocal approach to Czech nationals staying in Britain, in the case of hard Brexit.

Interior Minister Jan Hamacek (Social Democrats, CSSD) said Prague relies on the British document from last December that outlines the contours of the future migrant system and reckons with a transitional period by the end of 2020 for EU citizens.

Hamacek said the British assert that a norm on a level lower than law will be enough in this connection. However, if waiting for it, Prague need not pass its own bill in time, Hamacek said.

On the proposal of opposition TOP 09 deputy chairwoman Marketa Pekarova Adamova, the Chamber of Deputies asked the cabinet to negotiate with Britain about reciprocating the measures set by the Czech bill.

The bill defines British citizens' stay in Czechia, their acquisition of Czech citizenship, conclusion of marriage and registered partnership and the issuance of long-term and permanent residence permits.

It also defines Britons' access to the Czech labour market and the conditions for them to gain unemployment benefits and some types of social benefits.

It deals with the income tax and pension insurance in relation to Britons, with the Czech acknowledgement of the professional qualification of British citizens and their family members and with payments using British pounds.

Based on the bill, some measures such as those concerning Britons' Czech stay, taxes and the acknowledgement of medical staff's qualification, would remain valid even after 2020, Hamacek pointed out.

 CTK, Prague

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