Brexit: Protecting Citizens' Social Security Rights in Case of No Deal
| Wim Cocquyt

Brexit: Protecting Citizens' Social Security Rights in Case of No Deal

On 30 January 2019, the European Commission proposed a set of contingency measures in the event of a no-deal Brexit. These measures will be adopted unilaterally by the EU.

The Commission has consistently made clear that the rights of EU citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU are a priority. They should not pay the price for Brexit. Today's proposal aims to ensure that in a no-deal scenario, the entitlements of those people who exercised their right to free movement before the UK's withdrawal are safeguarded. These entitlements include periods of insurance, (self) employment or residence in the UK before withdrawal. For example, this means that if an EU27 citizen worked for 10 years in the UK before Brexit, this period should be taken into account when his/her pension rights are calculated by the competent authorities in the EU member state where he/she retires.

The proposed regulation ensures that member states continue applying the core principles of EU social security coordination, namely the principles of equality of treatment, assimilation, and aggregation. However, the proposal by no means replicates the significant advantages of the Withdrawal Agreement, as agreed on 14 November, 2018. It does not cover rights accumulated after 29 March 2019, nor does it cover the exportability of cash benefits, the continuous provision of medical care and the rules on applicable legislation.

Key Points

One set of measures concerns the protection of UK and EU citizens' social security rights:

The European Commission clearly distinguishes the no-deal scenario from the deal scenario, in which case all basic principles of the EU regulations on the coordination of social security systems would continue to apply during the transition period (until 31 December 2020).


The European Commission will work together with the EU Parliament and Council in order to draft a regulation including the proposed measures that should enter into force as of 30 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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