On 7 September, the EU published a further five position papers which will form the basis of its negotiations in the Brexit talks. This brings the total number of published papers to fourteen.
The third round of Brexit negotiations closed on 31 August, with a difference of opinion as to how much progress had been made. However, both sides agreed that "useful clarifications" had been reached on social security rights, frontier workers and the question of the Republic of Ireland/Northern Ireland border.
Ahead of the third round of negotiations, the Government has published a series of position papers setting out its thinking on the UK's future relationship with the EU. The papers include proposals on:
The Cavendish Coalition, which brings together a range of health and social care organisations including the NHS Confederation, will respond this autumn to the Government’s Migration Advisory Committee (MAC) call for evidence to assess the UK labour market’s needs after Brexit.
Government publishes its (Great) Repeal Bill
The UK Government has published its European Union (Withdrawal) Bill (known as the Great Repeal Bill). The purpose of the bill is ensure legal continuity on the day the UK leaves the European Union, by incorporating pre-Brexit EU law into UK domestic law and by granting temporary powers to correct laws that will not operate appropriately after Brexit.
The bill is not expected to be debated in Parliament until the Autumn and will need to have passed by the time the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.
Our Q&A on the Great Repeal Bill includes information on why the Bill is necessary and what it means for the NHS.
Brexit Health Alliance welcomes collaborative EU relationship
The Brexit Health Alliance has welcomed the UK Government's commitment to seek a collaborative relationship with the EU on medicines' regulation and supply post-Brexit. The Government had expressed its determination to continue to collaborate with the EU on medicines' regulation in a 5 July letter to the Times newspaper from the Health Secretary, Jeremy Hunt, and the Business Secretary, Greg Clark.
Read the statement from Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation and co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance.
Who are the Brexit Health Alliance?
The Brexit Health Alliance, which brings together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations, has been formed to ensure that issues such as healthcare research, access to technologies and treatment of patients are given the prominence and attention they deserve in the Brexit negotiations.
Launched at the NHS Confederation Annual Conference in June, the alliance will be co-chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor, the former permanent secretary of the Department of Health, and Niall Dickson, the Chief Executive of the NHS Confederation. Read the press release.
More on the Brexit Health Alliance.
UK government publishes paper on citizens' rights
In response to the EU Commission's proposals to safeguard the rights of EU citizens post-Brexit, the UK government has published its proposal paper on citizens' rights.
Under the UK proposals, all EU nationals living in the UK lawfully for at least five years would be granted "settled status" and be able to bring over spouses and children. Those who come after a cut-off point (yet to be agreed) will be given two years to "regularise their status".
During her statement to the House of Commons, the Prime Minister indicated that a system of registration for EU nationals would be as streamlined and light-touch as possible, whilst some of the technical requirements for getting permanent residence will be removed.
The UK government expected the offer to be extended on a reciprocal basis to citizens of Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Switzerland. Regarding the rules that would apply to people coming to the UK after Brexit, the Prime Minister said the rules would be set out in the immigration bill.
Summary of proposals
- New rights will be created in UK law for qualifying EU citizens resident in the UK before the UK's exit from the EU.
- These rights will be enforceable in UK law; the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) will not have jurisdiction in the UK.
- Qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for their residence status; the administrative procedures will be kept as smooth and simple as possible
- Qualifying individuals will be granted “settled status” in UK law. This means they will be free to reside in any capacity and undertake any lawful activity, to access public funds and services and to apply for British citizenship.
- To qualify for "settled status", EU citizens must have been resident in the UK before a specified date and must have completed a period of five years’ continuous residence in the UK before they apply for settled status, at which point they must still be resident.
- The specified date will be no earlier than the 29 March 2017, the date the formal Article 50 process for exiting the EU was triggered, and no later than the date of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU - this date will be the subject of negotiations with the EU Commission.
- EU citizens who arrived and became resident before the specified date but who have not accrued five years’ continuous residence at the time of the UK’s exit will be able to apply for temporary status in order to remain resident in the UK until they have accumulated five years.
- The government will seek to establish similar reciprocal arrangements with Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland (the European Free Trade Association (EFTA) States).
- EU citizens with "settled status" will continue to have access to UK benefits on the same basis as a comparable UK national under domestic law.
- The UK will also seek to protect the ability of individuals who are eligible for a UK European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) before the specified date to continue to benefit from free, or reduced cost, needs-arising healthcare while on a temporary stay in the EU, by seeking an ongoing arrangement akin to the EHIC scheme as part of negotiations on our future arrangements with the EU.
- The UK will seek to ensure that citizens with professional qualifications obtained in the EU27 prior to the UK’s withdrawal from the EU will continue to have those qualifications recognised in the UK.
What does it mean for the NHS?
NHS employers can reassure their EU staff that if the EU accepts the UK government’s proposals for safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK (and vice-versa) post-Brexit, they and their family members will have continuity of existing rights (including residence, access to benefits and services).
The government also proposes no “cliff edge” and a “smooth and simple” procedure to enable EU citizens to apply for settled status, and will seek an ongoing arrangement similar to the EHIC scheme so that UK citizens can continue to access healthcare elsewhere in Europe, and vice-versa.
Brexit negotiations begin in Brussels
The terms of reference, setting out the guiding principles for the Brexit negotiations, have been agreed by the European Commission and the UK Government.
Negotiations will follow the sequence set out by the EU 27, with terms of the divorce being addressed first, followed by negotiations on the UK's future relationship with the EU, and only when enough progress has been made on the divorce issues. Each month will see one week of discussions take place, with the time in between being used to exchange and work on proposals.
Among the first issues to be addressed will be citizens rights, agreement on the financial settlement and the border separating Northern Ireland and the Irish Republic.
The negotiating directives cover four main areas:
- safeguarding the status and rights of citizens – EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27 - and their families in the EU
- agreement on the principles of the financial settlement
- maintaining the Good Friday Agreement and avoidance of a hard border between N.Ireland and the Irish Republic
- finding arrangements regarding dispute settlement and the governance of the withdrawal agreement
The text complements the European Council guidelines for the negotiations of 29 April and the European Parliament's own resolution on its priorities for negotiations, agreed on 5 April.
You can keep up to date with the negotiations via the European Commission's dedicated Article 50 Task Force webpage.