No-deal Brexit: Citizen rights during transitional period
The Danish Government has put forth a plan for a transitional period concerning citizens in the event that no withdrawal agreement is concluded with the UK before the British withdrawal from the EU. The plan was adopted in the Danish Parliament on 19th March 2019. Britons in Denmark and citizens returning to Denmark from the UK will, with the suggested transitional period, hardly notice any difference in their rights. Citizens will also be able to continue to enjoy the right to access certain benefits like pension in the UK and other EU Member States.
Alongside the negotiations for an orderly UK withdrawal, the Danish Government has prepared a transition law concerning the rights of citizens in the event that Britain withdraws without an agreement ('no deal scenario'). The transitional law enters into force on the date of withdrawal of the UK from the EU. It will apply until replaced by a permanent law. The transitional period will thus be temporary and await a clarification of the future relationship between the EU and the UK.
The Danish transitional law is supplemented by an EU-regulation that secures the right to have periods of insurance, employment, self-employment or residence from the UK, completed before Brexit, taken into account when accessing social security benefits in the Member States. The regulation will enter into force on the date of withdrawal.
The UK’s withdrawal from the EU has been postponed till 31st October 2019, under the condition that the UK will hold elections for the European Parliament 23rd – 26th May. The withdrawal will however take place between 31st May and 1st June should the UK choose not to hold elections for the European Parliament.
If the UK within the above periods chooses to ratify the withdrawal agreement, reached between the UK government and EU27, an orderly Brexit will take place on the first day of the following month.
It is a priority of the Government that the permanent law should continue the scheme of rights under the transitional law. In the upcoming work on the permanent solution, the Government will take into account which rights the UK will offer Danish citizens, e.g. if they will be granted a permanent right to export pension from the UK to Denmark. The Government will also work with the EU27 Member States on common priorities and possible solutions.
Can I arrive after the date of withdrawal as a British citizen and still have the rights of a EU-citizen when applying for cash benefits?
No. The transitional scheme only concerns British citizens who are already in the country and British citizens in the UK with acquired rights to Danish benefits. However, see an exception below if your spouse arrives after Brexit.
You will be considered a third country national when you arrive after the date of withdrawal and as such you will have to fulfill the requirements for third country nationals when accessing Danish benefits.
Also, you will not be able to include past periods of residence, insurance and employment in the UK and EU when having to meet criteria for access to Danish benefits.
If I arrived as a British citizen in Denmark before the date of withdrawal but apply for benefits after that date – will I then have the same rights to cash benefits as a EU-citizen?
Yes. You will have access to Danish cash benefits on the same terms as EU-citizens as long as you arrived before Brexit.
This also means that you can include past periods of residence, insurance and employment in the UK and EU when having to meet criteria for access to Danish benefits even though you are no longer an EU-citizen.
I am a British citizen - If my spouse arrives after the date of withdrawal, will he/she have the same rights to cash benefits as a EU-citizen?
Yes. As long as the family member is within the scope of family members that can join the partner in Denmark after the date of withdrawal under EU-rules as stipulated in the transitional law, the partner can include periods of residence etc. in the UK when assessing rights to benefits in Denmark.
This even include periods after Brexit and until the day of entry into Denmark.
As a British citizen I lived and worked in Denmark some years ago and I now worry about my pension entitlements. What will happen?
All pension entitlements from before Brexit will be safeguarded and they will be paid out, also outside Denmark. However, in a future permanent scheme this will be subject to reciprocity with the UK. Also, pension entitlements earned in Denmark after Brexit can be exported, as long as they are earned by citizens covered by the transitional law.
Rights to cash benefits under the transition law
It is a priority of the Government that citizens are to be affected as little as possible in case of a hard Brexit.
UK citizens residing here and those Danish and unions citizens returning to Denmark from the UK will therefore essentially not experience any difference in their rights during the transitional period.
On the whole, the transitional period extends all existing rights to cash benefits for UK citizens in Denmark and for Danish citizens returning from the UK.
However, there will be limitations on the right to access certain benefits from Denmark in the UK and other EU countries (Where “EU citizen” or “EU country” is mentioned in the following the same rules apply to EEA citizens and citizens from Switzerland, and EEA-countries and Switzerland). Persons who currently enjoy Danish old-age pension or disability pension (førtidspension) in the UK according to EU law will retain their eligibility to the same pension.
Rights to cash benefits in Denmark for UK citizens residing in Denmark
UK citizens residing or working in Denmark as of the withdrawal date and their family members, will basically retain all existing rights. This means that when a Danish law requires that a person has lived in Denmark for a certain period, in order to be entitled to a benefit, UK citizens and their family members can include periods of residence in the UK and EU countries even though they are no longer EU citizens. This principle applies to EU citizens according to EU law and will thus be continued during the transitional period.
In addition to periods of residence, some laws require membership of an unemployment insurance fund for a certain period (insurance period) or periods of employment before obtaining rights to benefits. The same principle of right to aggregate periods from the UK and other EU countries will apply to those periods. This only applies to periods in the UK and EU countries dating back to before the date of withdrawal. However, family members who permanently reside in the UK as of the withdrawal date and arrive in Denmark later may include periods until the date of arrival.
Rules on the inclusion of periods of residence or insurance are relevant when assessing the right to the following Danish benefits:
- Sickness benefits
- Unemployment benefits
- Parental benefits
- Child allowance (børnetilskud)
- Disability pension (førtidspension) and old-age pension
- Early retirement
Work periods in the UK under exposure to hazardous risks will also be taken into account when determining if a disease can be recognized as an occupational disease under Danish law. In order to recognise certain diseases as occupational diseases under Danish law, the injured person must have been exposed to hazardous risks at work during a given minimum period.
UK citizens in Denmark will also enjoy the same rights as EU citizens when their right to social assistance or advance payment of child support (forskudsvis udbetaling af børnebidrag) is assessed. Finally, UK citizens in Denmark can earn the right to pension and early retirement pension in line with EU citizens.
UK citizens who reside in Denmark and receive pension from the UK or an EU-country will retain the right to housing benefits (boligstøtte) on equal terms with pensioners who receive a pension from Denmark or an EU country.
Child allowance (børnetilskud) will only be granted if the child resides in Denmark even though UK citizens would possibly have been eligible to the full benefit when counting periods from the UK.
UK citizens remain entitled to benefits with no earning requirements on equal terms with Danish citizens.
Rights to cash benefits in Denmark for Danish and other EU citizens residing in the UK who return to Denmark in the transitional period
Like UK citizens already residing in Denmark as of the withdrawal date, Danish and other EU citizens who reside or work in the UK as of the withdrawal date will be entitled to have their insurance-, residence- and employment periods from the UK taken into account.
The principle of inclusion of periods also applies to periods after the withdrawal date for Danish and other EU citizens who return to Denmark after this date. They will also be treated as if they returned from an EU Member State when determining their right to social assistance and advance payments of child support (forskudsvis udbetaling af børnebidrag).
Finally, Danish and other EU citizens who reside in Denmark and receive their pension from the UK will retain access to housing benefits (boligstøtte) in line with pensioners who receive their pension from Denmark or another EU member state.
Rights to Danish benefits for Danish and other EU citizens in the UK and to UK-citizens in the EU (export of benefits from Denmark)
Whether there is a right to continued disbursement of benefits after the UK withdrawal depends on the benefit in question.
Since there will be no free movement between Denmark and the UK or coordination according to EU rules after the UK withdrawal, Denmark cannot unilaterally extend all existing rights.
Benefits to which citizens have accommodated their future and which Denmark can decide to continue to disburse one-sidedly will be retained.
Disability pension (førtidspension), old-age pension and early retirement benefit
Danish, UK and EU citizens who currently receive Danish disability pension (førtidspension), old-age pension or early retirement pension in the UK will continue to receive these benefits during the transitional period.
This also applies to those citizens currently residing in the UK who will acquire a right to either of these benefits during the transitional period.
Those who have been granted disability pension (førtidspension) or old-age pension can move to the UK and receive their pension as if the UK were an EU Member State.
On similar lines, Danish, UK and EU citizens who have acquired rights, fully or partly, to either of these pensions by the time of the UK withdrawal from the EU, will retain their right to the disbursement in the UK as if the UK remained a member of the EU.
UK citizens who have not obtained the right to Danish pension when the UK withdraws from the EU must fulfil the eligibility requirements of the old-age and disability pension (førtidspension) as third country nationals.
Danish, UK and EU citizens who are eligible to early retirement can enjoy this benefit and its disbursement also after the UK withdrawal from the EU.
Child allowance for single parents (børnetilskud)
Danish child allowance (børnetilskud) will not be made available for children residing in the UK after withdrawal.
Unemployment benefits and sickness benefits
Danish unemployment benefits and sickness benefits will not be available to citizens in the UK after withdrawal. Current beneficiaries residing in the UK will retain their right to receive sickness benefit as long as they continue to meet the criteria until the benefit period expires. Current beneficiaries of unemployment benefit who seek work in the UK in a period of maximum three months will retain their right to receive unemployment benefit till the end of the period of three months.
This applies to all citizens (Danish, EU and UK citizens) who reside in the UK and to UK citizens residing in another European Member State.
Frontier workers who work in Denmark but reside in the UK or an EU Member State by the date of withdrawal are eligible to sickness benefits even though they do not reside in Denmark. Naturally under condition that all other eligibility criteria are fulfilled.
Parental leave benefits (barselsdagpenge)
Current beneficiaries of parental leave benefits residing in the UK will retain their eligibility and the disbursement after the withdrawal date and future beneficiaries will similarly retain this right provided that they resided in Denmark at the beginning of the leave.
Frontier workers, however, are eligible even if they did not reside in Denmark at the beginning of the leave provided that the other conditions for receiving the benefit are fulfilled.
Disbursements of Labour Market Supplementary Pension (ATP) and compensation for permanent injury or loss of earning capacity
These are no residence requirements under Danish law and disbursement of the benefits can accordingly continue in the UK.