In a June 2017-published.policy document the British government said it will maintain reciprocal healthcare rights and the ‘triple lock’ on pensions for the 1.2 million UK citizens currently living in the EU.
Britons living in the European Economic Area (EEA) – which includes EU member states, Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein – have the right to go to any member state and receive public healthcare which is then claimed back from the UK government. The UK gives about £500m (€575bn, $641m) a year to EU countries that care for the 190,000 Britons who have relocated.
“The UK will seek to protect the healthcare arrangements currently set out in EU Social Security Coordination Regulations and domestic UK law for EU citizens who arrive in the UK before the specified date and for UK nationals living in the EU before the specified date,” says the policy paper.
“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.
“The UK will seek an ongoing arrangement akin to the EHIC scheme as part of negotiations on our future arrangements with the EU.”
The paper also guarantees the triple lock on pensions for the 472,000 UK citizens retired in the EU. The triple lock ensures UK state pension incomes go up at the rate of inflation, earnings or 2.5%, whichever is higher.
“The UK will continue to export and uprate the UK State Pension within the EU,” says the government.
With the current system, Britons retiring to a country within the EEA receive annual increases to their pensions to match the triple lock commitment but there had been concern that it would end with Brexit and pensions would be frozen.
The government is also proposing a new ‘light touch’ online system to process applications by EU citizens that will give applicants the same ‘indefinite leave to remain’ status as many non-European nationals who have also lived in Britain for five years.
EU citizens resident in Britain will have to apply for a ‘settled status’ identity card after Brexit under Home Office proposals on their future rights.