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British Öresund commuters protected from no-deal Brexit: UK embassy

British citizens who already live in Sweden and commute across to the Öresund Bridge to work in Copenhagen will be able to continue working under the same tax and employment conditions as today, even if there is a 'no-deal' Brexit.

British Öresund commuters protected from no-deal Brexit: UK embassy
About 150 British people came to the meeting at Malmö's Town Hall. Photo: Richard Orange/The Local
“In the case of no deal, provided that you were working in Copenhagen at the time of whatever exit date, then you are fine to keep on in that existing employment,” Dr Jonas Bruun, from the British embassy in Copenhagen, told UK citizens at a town hall meeting in Malmö on Monday evening, attended by The Local.
 
But those who are now looking for a job in Copenhagen, or those who have a job but then lose it, face a more uncertain situation. 
 
“It becomes a little bit more complicated if you lose that job in a no-deal situation,” Bruun said. “The Danish legislation does not cover what will happen in that situation.” 
 
Bruun later told The Local that the Danish Ministry of Employment had confirmed to him that anyone with the status of 'frontier worker' at the time of the UK's exit from the European Union would still be able to receive unemployment benefit if they lost their jobs. 
 
They would also be able to change jobs between Danish employees without altering their situation. 
 
They would not, however, be able to move to take a new job in Sweden and then return to working in Denmark with the same rights. 
 
“You can go from Lego to Carlsberg. But you can't work in Sweden and then come back,” he said.  
 
Those who lose their 'frontier worker' status will no longer be able to take advantage of the deal between Sweden and Denmark over 'frontier workers', and will instead be treated in the same way as “third country citizens”, unless or until a new deal is reached to cover this.
 
Jonas Bruun (left), a policy officer at the British Embassy in Copenhagen and Peter Ruskin (right) Deputy Head of Mission at the British Embassy in Stockholm. Photo: Richard Orange
 
Under a 2003 deal between Denmark and Sweden, workers commuting across the Öresund Bridge pay income tax in Denmark at the same time as receiving healthcare, education and other welfare in Sweden. 
 
The problem for Öresund commuters stems from the fact that while Sweden last week announced a one-year 'grace period' for UK citizens, Denmark is not offering a similar arrangement.  
 
 
Meggan Collins, who lives in Malmö but who has been studying architecture in Copenhagen, said she was disappointed that British cross-border workers would only be able to take advantage of the Öresund deal if they already had jobs. 
 
“This puts me in a pretty sticky situation,” she told The Local. “A lot of the architecture jobs are in Denmark, not in Malmö, so I do feel a bit threatened now.” 
 
She said she was worried that the starting salary for a newly qualified architect in Denmark would be too low to qualify her for a work permit under Denmark's points system for third country nationals, and that the six-month contracts normally offered would be too short. 
 
“I'm graduating in Denmark with a Danish degree that I've been doing for seven years now, and I'm going to come out not being able to get the highest job that I can in Denmark.” 
 
Meggan Collins and her British boyfriend Jacob Coles. Photo: Richard Orange 
 
Lawmakers in London are set to vote on Prime Minister Theresa May's Brexit deal on Tuesday, a day after May said she had secured a new and improved deal to leave the EU.

The British PM said on Monday she had secured “legally binding” guarantees from the EU designed to get the Brexit deal through the British parliament and avert a chaotic withdrawal.

She announced the move after a late evening dash to Strasbourg to hammer out the changes with top European officials, as the clock ticked down to Britain's scheduled divorce from the bloc on March 29th.

Read more about May's proposed deal here.

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EUROPEAN UNION

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

Non-EU citizens living in the European Union are eligible for a special residence status that allows them to move to another country in the bloc. Getting the permit is not simple but may get easier, explains Claudia Delpero.

How Europe plans to ease long-term residence rules for non-EU nationals

The European Commission proposed this week to simplify residence rules for non-EU nationals who live on a long-term basis in the European Union.

The intention is to ease procedures in three areas: acquiring EU long-term residence status, moving to other EU countries and improving the rights of family members. 

But the new measures will have to be approved by the European Parliament and the EU Council, which is made of national ministers. Will EU governments support them?

What is EU long-term residence?

Non-EU citizens who live in EU countries on a long-term basis are eligible for long-term residence status, nationally and at the EU level. 

This EU status can be acquired if the person has lived ‘legally’ in an EU country for at least five years, has not been away for more than 6 consecutive months and 10 months over the entire period, and can prove to have “stable and regular economic resources” and health insurance. Applicants can also be required to meet “integration conditions”, such as passing a test on the national language or culture knowledge. 

The EU long-term residence permit is valid for at least five years and is automatically renewable. But the status can be lost if the holder leaves the EU for more than one year (the EU Court of Justice recently clarified that being physically in the EU for a few days in a 12-month period is enough to maintain the status).

READ ALSO: IN NUMBERS: How many non-EU citizens live in European Union countries?

Long-term residence status grants equal treatment to EU nationals in areas such as employment and self-employment or education. In addition, EU long-term residence grants the possibility to move to other EU countries under certain conditions. 

What does the European Commission want to change?

The European Commission has proposed to make it easier to acquire EU long-term residence status and to strengthen the rights associated with it. 

Under new measures, non-EU citizens should be able to cumulate residence periods in different EU countries to reach the 5-year requirement, instead of resetting the clock at each move. 

This, however, will not apply to individuals who used a ‘residence by investment’ scheme to gain rights in the EU, as the Commission wants to “limit the attractiveness” of these routes and not all EU states offer such schemes. 

All periods of legal residence should be fully counted towards the 5 years, including those spent as students, beneficiaries of temporary protection or on temporary grounds. Stays under a short-term visa do not count.

Children who are born or adopted in the EU country having issued the EU long-term residence permit to their parents should acquire EU long-term resident status in that country automatically, without residence requirement, the Commission added.

READ ALSO: Why it may get easier for non-EU citizens to move to another European Union country

EU countries should also avoid imposing a minimum income level for the resources condition but consider the applicant’s individual circumstances, the Commission suggests.

Integration tests should not be too burdensome or expensive, nor should they be requested for long-term residents’ family reunifications. 

The Commission also proposed to extend from 12 to 24 months the possibility to leave the EU without losing status, with facilitated procedures (no integration test) for the re-acquisition of status after longer absences.

A person who has already acquired EU long-term residence status in one EU country should only need three years to acquire the same status in another EU member state. But the second country could decide whether to wait the completion of the five years before granting social benefits. 

The proposal also clarifies that EU long-term residents should have the same right as EU nationals with regard to the acquisition of private housing and the export of pensions, when moving to a third country. 

Why make these changes?

Although EU long-term residence exists since 2006, few people have benefited. “The long-term residents directive is under-used by the member states and does not provide for an effective right to mobility within the EU,” the Commission says. 

Around 3.1 million third-country nationals held long-term residence permits for the EU in 2017, compared to 7.1 million holding a national one. “we would like to make the EU long-term residence permit more attractive,” said European Commissioner for Home Affairs Ylva Johansson.

The problems are the conditions to acquire the status, too difficult to meet, the barriers faced when moving in the EU, the lack of consistency in the rights of long-term residents and their family members and the lack of information about the scheme.

Most EU member states continue to issue “almost exclusively” national permits unless the applicant explicitly asks for the EU one, an evaluation of the directive has shown.

READ ALSO: Pensions in the EU: What you need to know if you’re moving country

This proposal is part of a package to “improve the EU’s overall attractiveness to foreign talent”, address skill shortages and facilitate integration in the EU labour market of people fleeing Ukraine. 

On 1 January 2021, 23.7 million non-EU nationals were residing in the EU, representing 5.3% of the total population. Between 2.25 to 3 million non-EU citizens move to the EU every year. More than 5 million people have left Ukraine for neighbouring states since the beginning of the war in February. 

Will these measures also apply to British citizens?

These measures also apply to British citizens, whether they moved to an EU country before or after Brexit. 

The European Commission has recently clarified that Britons living in the EU under the Withdrawal Agreement can apply for a long-term residence too.

As Britons covered by the Withdrawal Agreement have their residence rights secured only in the country where they lived before Brexit, the British in Europe coalition recommended those who need mobility rights to seek EU long-term residence status. 

These provisions do not apply in Denmark and Ireland, which opted out of the directive.

What happens next?

The Commission proposals will have to be discussed and agreed upon by the European Parliament and Council. This is made of national ministers, who decide by qualified majority. During the process, the proposals can be amended or even scrapped. 

In 2021, the European Parliament voted through a resolution saying that third-country nationals who are long-term residents in the EU should have the right to reside permanently in other EU countries, like EU citizens. The Parliament also called for the reduction of the residency requirement to acquire EU long-term residence from five to three years.

READ ALSO: COMPARE: Which EU countries grant citizenship to the most people?

EU governments will be harder to convince. However, presenting the package, Commission Vice-President for Promoting our European Way of Life, Margaritis Schinas, said proposals are likely to be supported because “they fit in a broader framework”, which represents the “construction” of the “EU migration policy”. 

National governments are also likely to agree because large and small employers face skill shortages, “especially in areas that are key to our competitiveness, like agri-food, digital, tourism, healthcare… we need people,” Schinas said.

The article is published in cooperation with Europe Street News, a news outlet about citizens’ rights in the EU and the UK.

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