States should protect citizens’ pensions rights after Brexit, European Commission says

The European Commission wants EU member states to continue allowing citizens to export their pension benefits to the UK in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility Marianne Thyssen said in a speech on Brexit preparedness that it is important to protect EU and UK citizens’ social security rights.

She said that in the case of absence of a ratified withdrawal agreement, there will inevitably be a degree of legal uncertainty but that the commission is working with other EU institutions and member states to minimise uncertainty.

One measure the commission has taken is to put in place a contingency regulation at EU level to ensure minimum protection, also in case of a hard Brexit.

“The contingency regulation ensures that the periods you have worked as an EU citizen in the UK or as a UK citizen in the EU before Brexit, will be recognized, also after Brexit. This can be relevant for example for your entitlement to an old age pension at the end of your career,” Thyssen said in her speech.

It is also providing member states with guidance, coordinating unilateral contingency measures and encouraging states to continue providing certain social security rights to those UK and EU citizens who have exercised their free movement rights prior to Brexit.

“In particular, we have discussed with member states that they will continue to allow citizens to export their pension benefits to the UK. And that they will continue to compensate the UK for medical expenses incurred in the UK by EU citizens who legally reside there.”

Thyssen pointed out that free movement of workers is “one of the cornerstones of the EU Single Market”, and as almost 4 million EU citizens live or work in the UK, and 1.3 million UK nationals are living or working in the EU, it is “our collective duty to make sure we respect the life choices and protect the social security rights of those mobile EU and UK citizens”.

Furthermore, she said it has been a clear guiding principle from the beginning that citizens should not pay the price of Brexit.

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