The Italian Government continues to prepare for Brexit

21 Dicembre 2018

Withdrawal Agreement and the Political Declaration Setting out the Framework for the Future Relationship

On 25 November 2018, the “Art.50” Special European Council meeting in 27-EU format gave green light to the Withdrawal Agreement and approved the Political Declaration on future EU-UK relations.
It is an agreement of key importance and it will make it possible to manage Britain’s withdrawal (an unprecedented process) in an orderly and clear way for citizens and companies as it also sets forth, after the exit on 29 March 2019, a transitory period until 31 December 2020. The agreement fully transposes Italy’s priorities, starting with the safeguard of citizens’ rights and the protection of geographical indications, all the way to the regulation of Britain’s outstanding financial commitments to the EU budget and the prospects of a comprehensive and ambitious economic and security partnership.

Preparing for a withdrawal without an agreement (so-called “No Deal Brexit”)

Nevertheless, considering the uncertainty that characterises the UK’s ratification process, the Italian Government, in close cooperation with the European Commission and the other EU member States, has put in place parallel measures in preparation for a No-Deal Brexit in order to assure, also through legislative provisions, the protection of the rights of Italian citizens who live in the United Kingdom and of the British citizens living in Italy, the financial stability and operational continuity of markets and of the banking, financial and insurance sectors (both based in Italy and in the United Kingdom), also with a view to avoiding liquidity risks and guaranteeing the certainty of transactions, promoting adequate business preparedness and managing some of the emergencies relative to specific sectors such as, for example, transport, customs, health, agriculture, research, education and other sectors that might need an intervention.
Moreover, it should be noted that Brexit preparedness does not only involve Public Administrations but parallelly implies private individuals. Also in the case of the hoped-for ratification of the Withdrawal Agreement and the quick closing and coming into effect of an Agreement on future EU-UK relations, these relations are in any case destined to guarantee a substantially different level of cooperation from those between EU Member States. In this respect, the European Council has systematically repeated that a Third Country cannot have the same rights and vaunt the same advantages as a Member State. It is therefore of utmost importance to prepare for the circumstance when the United Kingdom will be a Third County.

Additional information on the rights of citizens

I. Rights of citizens in case of withdrawal in accordance with Art. 50 of the Treaty on the EU

From the very outset of negotiations in June 2017, it was clear that it was necessary to quickly agree on measures to protect the rights of approximately 4 million citizens (3 million of whom are EU citizens residing in the UK, including 700,000 estimated Italians). The approach agreed upon by the EU and the UK negotiators was to uphold most of the rights recognised in the acquis of the European Union of all the citizens residing in the United Kingdom or in the European Union before the expiry of the transition period (31 December 2020).
In case the agreement comes into effect on 29 March 2019, should Italian citizens residing in the United Kingdom not meet the UK five-year residency requirement, at the end of the withdrawal period, they would be able to obtain or be entitled to the so-called “Settled Status” or “pre-Settled Status” (giving title to exercise the rights provided under Art. 18.1 of the Withdrawal Agreement) through a simplified administrative procedure managed by the British Home Office. Italy and the United Kingdom have had, and continue to have, an intense and fruitful dialogue on the need to concretely protect said rights, especially for the most vulnerable population segments.
As for the recognition of the rights of British citizens residing in Italy, reliance shall be made on Art. 18.4 of the Withdrawal Agreement, by applying a declaratory procedure that recognises the rights of British citizens residing in Italy at the end of the transition period (31 December 2020). It is a simple and fast way of protecting the tens of thousands of British citizens who have chosen to live in Italy, in line with the open and constructive debate established with the British Authorities to protect, also in concrete terms, the rights of Italian citizens in the United Kingdom. British citizens who live and work in Italy are kindly asked to enlist in the General Register Office (Ufficio Anagrafe) of the Italian Municipality in which they reside.

II. The rights of citizens in case of a No-Deal Brexit

In line with the talks held between European Union Countries and the United Kingdom on the need to protect citizens’ rights, a mutual commitment has been made to offer them utmost protection also in the case of a No-Deal Brexit.
On the part of the United Kingdom, on 6 December a policy paper was published on the rights of citizens in case of a No-Deal Brexit, which tends to protect the acquired rights of all EU citizens resulting to have continuously resided in the Country for at least five years as at 29 March 2019 (instead of at 31 December 2020, thus eliminating the transition period in case of a No-Deal Brexit). Those citizens entitled to apply for the conditions offered by the new Settled or pre-Settled Status will generally be entitled to continue benefiting the rights and benefits they were assured up to then, the protection of which would be referred to British courts (with no possible claim of jurisdiction by European courts, as instead laid down in the Withdrawal Agreement). Those arriving in the United Kingdom after 29 March 2019 will be given a different treatment, based on British national immigration laws and on the principle of reciprocity as applied to the British citizens residing in the Countries of origin of the persons concerned.

On the part of Italy, in line with the European Commission Communications of 13 November 2018 and of 19 December 2018 on the preparatory and emergency arrangements to tackle Brexit, new legislative measures are being prepared to essentially maintain the existing regulatory framework so as to assure that the British citizens residing in Italy as at 29 March 2019 will be recognised to meet the requirements and will be given the necessary time to obtain the status of long-term resident, as provided for under Directive 2003/109/EC. Thus, they will continue to enjoy rights such as access to healthcare, employment, education, social benefits and family reunification. British citizens who live and work in Italy are kindly asked to enlist in the General Register Office (Ufficio Anagrafe) of the Italian Municipality in which they reside before 29 March 2019.