The German Federal government approved on December 11 a draft bill that aims to guarantee social security, education and citizenship rights for people exposed to the risks of a disorderly Brexit. The government has taken the view that citizens should not be penalized by Brexit, so the bill intends to cushion against its possible impacts.
The draft law applies to anyone who has lived and has accrued rights in the UK and Germany at some point before Brexit. Their rights depend on EU laws or on the adoption of the agreement on the UK withdrawal from the European Union. But they may be lost if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
One of the problematic aspects of a no deal scenario would be the recognition of pension, healthcare, unemployment and other social security benefits that can now be aggregated and exported across EU countries.
According to the German government, anyone who has contributed to both the German and the British social security system should maintain the rights accrued, whatever the outcome of the Brexit negotiations.
To preserve these rights in the event of no deal, Germany will rely on a bilateral agreement adopted with the UK in 1960. This, however, is not as comprehensive as EU rules and does not cover, for example, unemployment and social care.
Germany would therefore aim to negotiate a new bilateral agreement with the UK. In the meantime, the draft bill would ensure that social security rights continue to apply and contributions paid until Brexit and for five years after Brexit would be taken into account “as if the UK were still a member of the EU”.
With regard to education, German trainees and students who have enrolled in UK programmes, or vice versa, will be able to complete their studies without losing agreed loans and subventions.
Similarly, nothing should change for people in the UK who receive a pension from Germany.
The draft bill also addresses the issue of citizenship. Germany allows dual citizenship only to other EU nationals. So Britons obtaining German citizenship, or vice versa, would have to give up their current passport after Brexit. To avoid this, the bill specifies that anyone who applies for naturalization before 30 March 2019 will be able to maintain dual citizenship, even if the naturalization decision is made after Brexit.
Separately, the German parliament is also discussing a law that would allow dual citizenship for applications made during the Brexit transition period (until 31 December 2020). The transition, however, will only be activated by the ratification of the withdrawal agreement.
The deal, endorsed by EU leaders on 25 November, has to be approved by the British and the European parliaments, and there are doubts on whether it has enough support in Westminster.
With the draft bill, the German government has taken a more generous approach on social security rights than France and the UK. France is discussing in parliament a law that would recognize social security contributions paid up to 6 months after Brexit. In its no deal plans, the UK only aims to coordinate past contributions and is silent about future ones.
The German cabinet still hopes the withdrawal agreement will be ratified and says that these measure are proposed only as a “precaution”. The draft bill now has to be approved by the German parliament.
Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.
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