Brexit deal allows ending of pension, healthcare protection

The future relationship agreement says its social security chapter ends after 15 years if not renegotiated, and either side can cancel it at any time. The agreement affects newcomers and not Britons established in France before full Brexit on January 1, 2021

22 January 2021
By Liv Rowland

The whole social security section in the Brexit future relationship deal – including pension and healthcare protections – could be cancelled in future, the deal says.

The Connexion picked up on this issue while reading the full deal – which is 1,449 pages long. The British in Europe campaign group coalition also says it has raised the point with the UK government in recent days.

The deal says the social security protocol comes to an end after 15 years unless renewed before then on mutual agreement of the UK and EU. If this is not to happen, either the EU or UK should notify the other of the wish to enter negotiations for an updated protocol, not less than one year before the 15-year termination date.

The deal also states that either party can cancel the protocol at any time in writing at which point it ends from the first day of the ninth month after the date of notification.

It states however that any rights of people covered by the protocol “regarding entitlements which are based on periods completed or facts or events that occurred before [it] ceases to apply shall be retained”.

The protocol covers items such as the fact that the UK state pensions of Britons moving to France from January 1, 2021 are uprated annually and not frozen, that UK state pensioners moving from that date may have their healthcare paid for by the UK, and that certain UK benefits remain exportable.

It also includes the fact that people resident in the UK may continue to participate in the Ehic visitors’ health card scheme or an equivalent.

BiE co-chair Fiona Godfrey said they have pointed this issue out to the UK government and it is “on our radar”. “We noted that it could give rise to future difficulties for Britons,” she said.

She added: “Our feeling is that this section appears to have been one of the easier and smoother ones to negotiate.

“However we saw the need for renewal and the potential for suspension – whereas under the Withdrawal Agreement deal [covering rights of Britons living in the EU before 2021] the citizens’ rights section cannot be suspended by either side whatever happens.

“We would hope neither side would want to suspend it but it's Brexit and we never know what's going to happen."

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