Sweden ‘cannot guarantee Brits’ future in no-deal Brexit’, EU minister tells The Local

EXCLUSIVE: In an interview with The Local, Sweden's EU minister said he was currently unable to guarantee what the status of Brits in Sweden would be one year after a no-deal Brexit, but said he was confident that "any problems will be sorted out".

Sweden 'cannot guarantee Brits' future in no-deal Brexit', EU minister tells The Local
EU Minister Hans Dahlgren, right, next to Prime Minister Stefan Löfven. Photo: Pontus Lundahl/TT

“We don't really want [a no-deal Brexit] to happen. But if it does, and there is a serious risk that it might, then we feel that we are pretty well prepared for that situation,” Hans Dahlgren told The Local. “It doesn't mean that would be without problems.”

As The Local has previously reported, the Swedish government has decided to offer a one-year 'grace period' in the event of a no-deal Brexit, meaning that British citizens and their families already resident in Sweden could continue living and working in the country with most of the same rights for 12 months, without needing to apply for any additional permit.

Asked what rules or permits would apply to Brits after this one-year period in a no-deal Brexit scenario, Dahlgren said: “That's not clear yet, that is something that would have to be worked out after this period. There are a lot of countries outside the EU and they don't all have similar rules so that's something we'd have to negotiate.”

Hans Dahlgren was appointed EU minister in 2019. Photo: Anders Wiklund/TT

One group whose status would be uncertain is Brits working in companies that do not meet the conditions required to offer third-country work permits, for example smaller startup companies without a collective bargaining agreement (kollektivavtal). Sweden's largest business federation has warned that many Brits risk not having their permits approved if these are processed under existing legislation. 

“During the grace period there's going to be no change. But after that, I cannot answer that question because we don't know exactly what the rules will be at that time,” explained Dahlgren. “That's why we have this grace period, in order to have time to work these things out.”

MEMBERS' Q&A: Why is Sweden deporting skilled foreign workers?

The same applies to Brits who moved to Sweden using their EU freedom of movement but do not meet the usual requirements for a residence permit as a third country citizen, such as retirees or self-supporting people, the minister said.

“The question of who will be eligible for a work permit or a residence permit after the grace period is something I don't have any answers on today,” Dahlgren told The Local.

He added that the government would be prepared to take further decisions on the status of Brits during the one-year grace period in order to resolve any problems that arose during that year.

“I'm sure that during the negotiations that follow, we'll make every effort to facilitate for UK citizens now living in Sweden to have as easy an access to this country as possible. But the details of this have to be worked out during this grace period,” the minister said. “A lot of things can be done in one year and if there are remaining problems I'm sure they can be worked out.”

NO-DEAL BREXIT: New checklist for Brits in Sweden

Protesters outside the UK parliament. Photo: AP Photo/Matt Dunham

While any withdrawal agreement with the UK must be agreed between the country and the EU as a whole, EU member states have been able to decide individually what rights, if any, to offer Brits in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The most generous offer is from Malta, which has said all UK citizens resident on the date of a no-deal Brexit would receive 10-year status in the country, while sources at one rights group have said Italy is considering offering British residents the right to remain for life. Some countries have said Brits would need to meet income criteria in order to receive a residence permit.

READ MORE: No-deal Brexit: Which EU member state is being the most generous to Britons?

“We cannot negotiate with the Brits about a situation after a hard Brexit before it has happened because we cannot have double negotiations. We are now in a discussion about an organized withdrawal and that's our main focus. If that fails, then we will deal with the problems,” Dahlgren said.

Dahlgren, who himself spent a summer working in a sweet shop in Wales as well as a stint as a TV and radio correspondent in London in the 1960s and 70s, emphasized that Sweden and the UK have historically enjoyed close ties, and that he expected this to continue after Brexit.

“I'm sure we will have a good exchange of people: workers and students and in all walks of life, in the future. But the rules will be different because it will be a third country,” he said. “There is no sense of revenge here. We regret the outcome of the referendum but we will build on what we have.”

Thank you to those who submitted questions for this interview. If you have more questions about how Brexit will affect you, please email [email protected] and we'll try our best to get answers. And if you would like to see more interviews with key players about the issues that affect internationals in Sweden, please consider becoming a Member of The Local. Big thanks to existing Members – your support is invaluable.

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Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

People who have more than one citizenship often hold multiple passports, so what does this mean for crossing borders? Here's what you should know.

Passports: What are the post-Brexit rules for dual-nationals travelling in Europe?

For many readers of The Local, gaining citizenship of the country where they live helps them to feel more settled – but there are also travel benefits, including avoiding the long ‘non EU’ queue when coming back into the Schengen zone.

But this week the problems associated with travelling while holding dual citizenship came to light, leaving many people wondering what they should know when they are entering different countries.

Put simply – which passport should you use? And do you have to carry both with you?

Financial Times journalist Chris Giles tweeted that the UK Border Force “detained” his dual-national daughter while she was travelling from France into the UK with her German passport – and not her British one. 

He went on to say that UK border guards released his daughter. According to Giles, the border staff said she should have had both passports with her “and asked why she was travelling on her German one”.

The rules on dual-nationality have not changed, but now that the UK is not in the EU, there are strict rules on non-Brits who enter the country (and vice-versa) which has made it trickier for travel.

For instance, UK nationals receive a stamp in their passport when entering Schengen member states because they are only allowed to stay up to 90 days within an 180 period (unless they have a visa or residency card).

READ ALSO: Brexit: EU asks border police not to stamp passports of British residents 

People coming from the EU to the UK can generally visit as a tourist for up to six months without a visa – but are not allowed to carry out any work while there.

So which passport should you show?

The first thing to be aware of is there are no specific rules on travelling with more than one passport. 

Travellers can choose to use whichever passport they prefer when going to a country. 

But one thing to note is that it’s worth using the passport that is best suited to your destination when travelling there. Each country has its own set of immigration and visa rules that you’ll need to research closely.

It could be that one passport is better suited for your trip – and you may be able to avoid visa requirements.  

READ ALSO: How powerful is the German passport?

In the case of the UK, many people are still getting to grips with the different rules that apply because it’s not in the EU anymore.

A question submitted to the Secretary of State for the Home Department in September 2021 provided some insight into this issue. 

The question from Labour’s Paul Blomfield asked what steps the UK government “is taking to enable dual UK and EU citizens to travel to the UK on an EU member state passport without having to further prove their UK citizenship?”

The Conservatives Kevin Foster said: “Border Force Officers examine all arriving passengers to establish whether they are British citizens, whether they require leave to enter or if they are exempt from immigration control.

“Where the passenger claims to be British, but does not hold any evidence of British citizenship, the officer will conduct all relevant checks to satisfy themselves the passenger is British.

Border control at Hamburg airport.

Border control at Hamburg airport. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Christian Charisius

“When dual nationals who are eligible to use e-gates travel to the UK, they will enter via the e-gates without being examined by an immigration officer.

“We recommend all dual nationals, including EU citizens, travel on their British passport or with evidence or their British citizenship to minimise any potential delay at the border or when commencing their journey.”

The Local contacted the UK Home Office to ask if there was any official advice. 

A spokesman said: “An individual can present whichever passport they desire to enter the UK, however they will be subject to the entry requirements associated with the nationality of the passport they present.”

They said anyone who is looking for more information should check out guidance on entering the UK and on dual nationality.

In short, if you present a German passport on entry to the UK you will be treated the same as any other German citizen – which can include being quizzed about your reasons for visiting the UK – as border guards have no way of knowing that you are a dual-national. 

Do I have to carry both passports?

There’s no rule requiring you to have both passports, but you won’t get the benefits of a British passport (entry into the UK without questions) if you don’t show it.

Likewise if you are a French-British dual national and you enter France on your UK passport, you will need to use the non-EU queue and may have your passport stamped.

Should I think about anything else?

An important thing to remember is that if you apply for a visa and register your passport details, the same passport has to be used to enter the country. 

It could also make sense to travel with both passports, just in case. 

However, note that some countries – like the US – require that US nationals use a US passport to enter and leave the States even if they are dual nationals. 

In general, it’s best to use the same passport you entered a country with to depart.

The rules and systems are different depending on the country. But many countries require people to show their passport when leaving – and they will either stamp or scan the passport – this is how authorities know that a foreign visitor hasn’t overstayed their time in the country. 

So if your passport is checked as you leave the UK, you should show the one you arrived with, just to ensure there is a record of you arriving and leaving.

However as you enter France/Germany/other EU destination, you can show your EU passport in order to maximise the travel benefits of freedom of movement.