The existing rights of Swiss and British citizens will continue to apply after Brexit. At its meeting on 6 December, the Federal Council adopted the dispatch on the agreement between Switzerland and the United Kingdom (UK) on citizens’ rights. Under the agreement, Swiss and British citizens will retain the rights obtained in Switzerland or the UK based on the Agreement on the Free Movement of Persons (AFMP) with the European Union. The new agreement safeguards the rights under the AFMP of the 34,500 or so Swiss nationals residing in the UK and the around 43,000 British nationals residing in Switzerland. The Federal Council approved the agreement at its meeting on 19 December 2018 and it was signed on 25 February 2019.
The agreement is part of the Federal Council’s ’Mind the Gap’ strategy, the aim of which is to ensure that after the UK leaves the EU existing mutual rights and obligations in Switzerland’s relationship with the UK will continue to apply as far as possible, and may even be expanded. With this in mind, Switzerland and the UK have drawn up seven new agreements. The current agreement covers free movement (Annex I AFMP), the coordination of social security schemes (Annex II AFMP) and the mutual recognition of professional qualifications (Annex III AFMP). The rights granted are valid for life. Thanks to this agreement, services can continue to be provided between Switzerland and the UK.
The consultation on this agreement lasted from 22 March to 29 May. Now that it has adopted the dispatch, the Federal Council can submit the agreement to Parliament for approval. The agreement will come into force once the AFMP between Switzerland and the UK is no longer applicable. This will be the case at the end of the transition period agreed between the EU and the UK in the Withdrawal Agreement (currently 1 January 2021). Should the UK leave the EU without a withdrawal agreement, the agreement on citizens’ rights will apply provisionally.
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