UK acts to help with healthcare

Britain has introduced a bill in which it offers to continue to pay for the healthcare of its state pensioners living abroad in the EU – including those moving after Brexit – and to keep funding EHICs for travellers.

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The pledge would apply regardless of a Brexit deal but Britain would expect it to involve reciprocal deals with the EU and/or individual member states.

It came as the EU issued more contingency planning notes about a no-deal scenario, saying that EU states should take a “generous approach to the rights of UK citizens already resident in their territory”.

It said, for example, that periods of legal residence as EU citizens in their adopted countries should count as legal residence periods under residency rules concerning non-EU nationals, helping them to secure long-term resident status in the case of a no-deal.

The Commission also said it does not want British visitors to EU countries to have to have visitor visas in the case of a no-deal.

The proposal has yet to be agreed by the Council of the EU and the European Parliament but would mean UK visitors could come to the Schengen zone for up to 90 days in total over any 180-day period, like other states that benefit from being on the visa-waiver list (all non-EU country visitors need a visa to stay more than three months).

This is conditional on the UK also offering all EU visitors visa-free entry for short trips, which looks likely as the UK has already said it would not require visas from EU citizens coming on short tourist or business trips.

The proposal would not, however, exempt British travellers from the stricter entry checks for non-EU visitors or from the fee-paying Etias online visitor permission scheme coming into force in 2021.