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‘Mind the Gap’ Swiss-British treaty extends worker residency rights post-Brexit

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Some 77,500 Swiss and British citizens live in each other's countries.


The existing rights of Swiss and British nationals already residing in each other’s countries when Britain leaves the European Union will be guaranteed post-Brexit, the Swiss government has said.

The deal, announced on Thursday, ends uncertainty for 77,500 British and Swiss nationals who have taken advantage of the EU freedom of movement of persons principle. But the agreement to extend residency rights only applies to people moving between the two countries while Britain remains in the EU.

“The rights granted in this agreement apply indefinitely,” read the Swiss government statementexternal link. “However, the terms of the agreement do not apply for UK and Swiss citizens who move to the respective foreign country after the [EU free movement of persons protocol] ceases to apply.”

The affected citizens of each country will be able to continue working as foreign nationals and provide the same services. The deal also guarantees the same social security provisions and mutual recognition of professional qualifications.

Should Britain exit the EU under ‘no deal’ conditions on March 29 next year, the newly agreed provisions would take immediate effect. If Britain and the EU can agree divorce terms, they would come into play following the transition period.

While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it recognises the free movement of persons principle through a series of bilateral agreements with the European bloc.

At the end of 2017 around 43,000 British citizens were living in Switzerland, and about 34,500 Swiss citizens were resident in Britain.

Last week, Switzerland approved the text of a trade agreement with Britain, aiming to maintain existing economic and trade relations with the country after it leaves the European Union (EU) – including in the event of a disorderly ‘no deal’ Brexit. 

In October 2016, the Swiss government adopted its “Mind the Gapexternal link” strategy aimed at guaranteeing as far as possible the mutual rights and obligations of citizens in all areas that currently link Switzerland and Britain.

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