Switzerland and the United Kingdom have signed an agreement in London to maintain social security rights in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The text is in line with the Swiss government’s Mind the Gapexternal link strategy.
If it had to come into force, this transitional agreement would be limited in time and applicable in principle until December 31, 2020, the government said in a statementexternal link on Thursday.
The European Union has allowed Britain to delay its Brexit departure from October 31 up to January 31, 2020.
The agreement maintains the social security coordination laws currently applied in the context of the free movement of people for citizens of both states as well as for citizens of other EU countries who would like to work in Switzerland or Britain.
Some 35,400 Swiss live in Britain and nearly 41,400 Brits live in Switzerland.
While Switzerland is not a member of the EU, it recognises the free movement of people through a series of bilateral agreements with the EU.
The government underlined that it would only use this agreement if Britain were to leave the EU without a deal. Otherwise, relations between Bern and London would continue to be governed by the Agreement on the Free Movement of Personsexternal link, probably until the end of 2020.
On Wednesday the European Union’s Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier said the risk of Britain’s chaotic departure from the bloc without a divorce agreement still existed and that future trade talks would be “difficult and demanding”.
Barnier spoke as Britain was heading for a December 12 general election that Prime Minister Boris Johnson hopes will unlock the Brexit stalemate after his fractious parliament refused to swiftly ratify his divorce deal with the EU.
Once the divorce deal is ratified, Britain will remain inside the bloc’s single market and bound by its rules until the end of December 2020, while the two sides devise a new trade relationship during a transition period.