On 20 February 2019, a new bill was filed proposing a scheme whereby certain existing rights are continued regardless of whether or not a UK-EU withdrawal agreement is concluded.
If the withdrawal agreement is not approved and the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the country will be considered a third country as of 30 March 2019. UK citizens will be considered third-country citizens and will therefore no longer be subject to EU rules on free movement - unless otherwise provided.
The bill aims to counter the most serious consequences of the UK leaving the European Union without an exit agreement. The bill proposes the introduction of a scheme whereby certain existing rights enjoyed by UK citizens under EU law are continued regardless of whether or not a withdrawal agreement is concluded.
The bill includes citizens of the United Kingdom who legally reside in Denmark on the basis of EU rules on free movement at the time of withdrawal and their family members as well as citizens of the United Kingdom, Danish nationals and other EU/EEA nationals, and their family members who at that time resides in the UK and receives benefits from Denmark under EU law. In addition, the bill includes British citizens, Danish citizens and other EU/EEA citizens and their family members, who otherwise have acquired rights in Denmark by virtue of Britain's membership of the EU. The bill, however, will not secure residence and labor law in Denmark for British citizens who do not have this right at the time of withdrawal.
According to the bill, there are currently approximately 18,500 British citizens in Denmark who will be affected by the withdrawal and the consequences it may have. In two communications, the EU Commission has called on the Member States to adopt a "generous approach" towards the United Kingdom citizens who are already resident in a Member State at the time of withdrawal, assuming that the UK will adopt a similar approach - e.g. in relation to Danish citizens in Great Britain who receive social benefits from Denmark.
The bill is divided into different legal areas and contains the provisions that, according to the law, must continue to apply. The areas include e.g. "Right to stay, work, residence documents, etc.", "Social security of the employment and taxation", "Conclusion of marriage", etc.
The proposal implies that British citizens, who, at the time of their withdrawal, have resided in Denmark in accordance with the rules on free movement, can continue to reside in Denmark on virtually the same conditions as today. Family members, irrespective of nationality, in family relationships established before the time of withdrawal, and who are covered by the EU residence regulations, will continue to be subject to the rules in force today. The bill thus largely extends the rights of British citizens and their family members in Denmark today.
The bill will be dealt with for the first time in the Parliament on 1 March 2019 and, in accordance with the timetable, will be dealt with for the third and last time on 19 March 2019. The bill proposes an entry into force on 26 March 2019. However, it is noted, also in comments on the bill, that the proposed solution is intended to be temporary. However, it is not considered appropriate to set a date for the termination of the scheme, as, owing to the present uncertain situation, it is not possible to accurately specify a time when the scheme will be replaced.
At Bird & Bird we have - especially in our presence in the UK - a strong focus on the legal consequences of Brexit, and we follow both this bill and other regulations in relation to Brexit closely.