On December 21, 2018, the Italian Government released the following statement about preparing for Brexit (translation by The Florentine). Read the full Italian text here.
On November 25, 2018, the special meeting of the European Council (Art. 50) (EU27) endorsed the Withdrawal Agreement for the UK’s exit from the EU and approved the Political Declaration for the Future Relationship.
It is an agreement of fundamental importance that will allow the UK’s exit (an unprecedented procedure) to be managed in an ordered way and in clear terms for citizens and businesses, foreseeing, after the UK’s exit from the EU on March 29, 2019, a transitory period until December 31, 2020.
The agreement fully recognizes Italian priorities, beginning with safeguarding citizens’ rights and protecting geographic indications, arriving at regulations on British financial arrears regarding the EU budget and prospects of an economic partnership and profound and ambitious security.
Taking into account the uncertainty surrounding the UK ratification process, the Italian Government, in close connection with the European Commission and other EU Member States, has nevertheless also begun parallel plans in the event of a “no deal” withdrawal to guarantee, also through legislative measures, the protection of the rights of Italian citizens living in the UK and British citizens living in Italy, safeguarding the financial stability and operational continuity of the markets and the banking, financial and insurance sectors (whether located in Italy or in the UK), also in order to avoid the liquidity risks and to guarantee the certainty of transactions, encouraging adequate preparation for businesses and emergency management for some sectors such as transportation, customs, healthcare, agriculture, research, education and other sectors in which intervention becomes necessary.
Moreover, it must be emphasized that preparing for Brexit not only involves public administrations but also affects individuals at the same time. Even in the hoped-for hypothesis of a Withdrawal Agreement and the rapid conclusion and entering into force of an agreement for future relations, the relationships between EU countries and the UK are nevertheless destined to guarantee a level of cooperation that is substantially different to the existing relationship among EU Member States.
In this context, the European Council has systematically reiterated that a non-EU country cannot enjoy the same rights and benefits as a Member State. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to prepare for a situation whereby the UK becomes a non-EU country.
From the earliest negotiations in June 2017, it was clear that measures needed to be agreed rapidly to safeguard the rights of approximately 4 million citizens (approximately 3 million EU citizens in the UK, among which as many as 700,000 Italians are estimated). The approach agreed among the EU and UK negotiators was to guarantee most of the rights recognized by the EU acquis to all citizens residing in the UK or the EU prior to the date at the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020).
If this agreement enters into force by March 29, 2019, Italian citizens residing in the UK will be able to obtain or accrue, if they do not yet possess the required five years of residence in the UK at the end of the withdrawal period, Settled Status or pre-Settled Status (with constitutive nature of the rights pursuant to Art. 18.1 of the Withdrawal Agreement) through a simplified administrative procedure managed by the UK Home Office. Italy and the UK have developed and continue to have an intense and productive dialogue on the need to guarantee these rights in concrete terms, especially with regard to vulnerable categories.
With regard to the British citizens residing in Italy, the intention is to recognize the rights provided by the Withdrawal Agreement with the procedures set out in Art. 18.4, hence applying a procedure of a declarative nature that recognizes the rights for British citizens residing in Italy at the end of the transition period (December 31, 2020). This is a simple and quick method to safeguard the tens of thousands of British citizens who have decided to live in Italy, in line with the open and constructive dialogue started with the UK authorities to safeguard in concrete terms the rights of Italian citizens in the UK. British citizens who live and work in Italy are invited to register at the Civil Records Office of the Italian municipality where they reside.
Consistent with the dialogue among EU countries and the UK on the need to guarantee the rights of citizens, there is a shared commitment to offer the maximum possible protection even in the event of a “no-deal” withdrawal.
On the British side, on December 6, a policy paper was released, regarding the rights of citizens in the event of a no-deal withdrawal, which tends towards protecting the rights acquired for all EU citizens who result as having resided continuously in the country for at least five years on March 29, 2019 (instead of on December 31, 2020, since no transition period would exist without the Withdrawal Agreement). Those able to benefit from the new system (Settled or pre-Settled Status) will be able to apply for registration by December 31, 2020. Those who are granted the Settled (or pre-Settled) Status will continue to enjoy, in general terms, the rights and benefits guaranteed to date, whose protection would be referred nevertheless to UK courts (without any possible involvement of European jurisdictional petitions, as is instead set out in the Withdrawal Agreement). All those who move to the UK after March 29, 2019 will receive a different treatment, based on UK national legislation on immigration and the principles of reciprocity with the situation of British residents in the country of provenance of the parties concerned.
On the Italian side, in line with the Communications of the European Commission of November 13, 2018 and December 19, 2018 on preparatory and emergency measures for Brexit, legislative measures are being prepared for a substantial conservation of the existing legal framework to guarantee that British citizens residing in Italy on March 29, 2019 will be granted the requisites and time needed to request and obtain the long-term resident status governed by Directive 2003/109/EC. This way, British citizens residing in Italy will be able to 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 invited to register at the Civil Records Office of the Italian municipality where they reside by March 29, 2019.