The proposal would guarantee Brits already resident in Sweden a year in the country during which they could apply for permits to be allowed to stay.
Under the withdrawal agreement British MPs are voting on, Brits already living in Sweden, as well as those who move there before the end of the transition period on December 30th, 2020, would retain many of their current rights for the rest of their lives.
This includes the right to study in Sweden without paying third country fees, the right to work without a work permit, and the right to healthcare subsidized at the same level as for native Swedes.
But the deal is widely expected to be voted down. With no alternative having been outlined, and the date on which the UK is set to leave the EU fast approaching, this increases the possibility of a no-deal Brexit.
This would directly impact the 20,000 Brits resident in Sweden without Swedish citizenship.
The Swedish government has put forward a regulation which would apply if the UK leaves the EU without a deal, according to Dagens Nyheter. It would allow those Brits already living in Sweden on March 29th to stay in the country and retain their existing rights for another year after that.
That would give them time to apply for any residence and work permits needed to remain in the country, and to ensure that they fulfill the requirements for these. Third-country applicants usually need to be outside the country when they apply for these permits, but that won't be the case for British citizens, a government representative told The Local.
“Brits living in Sweden won't need to leave Sweden in order to apply [for permits]. They will get a year, and will be able to apply from Sweden without needing to travel abroad,” Darina Agha, press secretary to the EU Minister, told The Local. “The whole point is to make things easier, as simple and convenient as possible for Brits to continue their lives here.”
She added that the government was also looking into the question of whether British driving licences would still be valid in a no-deal Brexit, but that this was not “one of the most acute issues at the moment”.
The proposal will now need to be referred for consultation, and would only come into effect in the event of a no-deal Brexit. “We still believe that it will be an orderly exit in some way. But in order to avoid chaos if that's not the case, we have to have this regulation,” EU Minister Ann Linde told Dagens Nyheter.
The EU has asked member states to take a “generous approach” to securing the rights of UK citizens living in their countries, provided such an approach is reciprocated by the UK.
Linde told The Local in November that a no-deal Brexit would mean “big changes” for Brits in Sweden, and advised Brits to go to authorities and find out what it would mean for their status. But in December, she said the government was working to ensure British citizens in Sweden could “live as before” immediately after any no-deal Brexit.