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British High Commissioner in Cyprus, Matthew Kidd gives an update on Brexit preparations

We have received the following message from The British High Commission in Nicosia, who have asked cyprusscene.com to publish this news for our readership..

 Message from the British High Commissioner: Update on Brexit preparations

 

I thought it might be helpful to provide an update on recent developments linked to the UK’s future departure from the European Union, now that formal negotiations have begun.

Matthew Kidd.

As I travel around the island meeting British residents here – most recently in Paralimni in May and in Pafos earlier this month – I know you have a range of concerns about what Brexit will mean for you. Until negotiations progress further, we are unlikely to have all the answers to those concerns but I hope it’s helpful for me to set out what we know so far; and for those unable to attend recent meetings to hear the kinds of concerns that were raised by others.

On 26 June, the Prime Minister announced in parliament details of the UK’s opening offer in the negotiations on the rights of EU citizens in the UK post-Brexit. This is an important development as the expectation is that whatever is finally agreed will also apply reciprocally to British nationals resident in other EU countries, such as Cyprus.

The core elements of the offer are as follows:

  • No EU citizen living in the UK before a ‘cut-off date’ (to be determined) will face the threat of being asked to leave after our exit;
  • There will be equal treatment between UK nationals and EU citizens entitled to reside in the UK;
  • EU citizens’ rights will be robustly and properly enforceable, but in UK law, not through the European Court of Justice (ECJ);
  • The offer has been made seeking reciprocity for UK nationals living in EU Member States. 

The UK hopes that by setting out its offer in this way, it is demonstrating its willingness to work positively and productively with its European partners.  Full details of the offer can be found by clicking here.

As you will see, the UK offer includes many of the issues (healthcare, pensions, education and benefits) of concern to UK nationals in Cyprus, as well as Cypriots in the UK.

The next step will be for the UK and the EU27 to start formal negotiations on these opening positions on citizens’ rights, and the other priority issues for the negotiations agreed on 19 June, namely:  the budget and the border with Ireland.  Once we have made sufficient progress on those issues, the negotiations will turn to the UK’s future relationship with the EU.  The UK’s outline plan is to move to those “future” issues by October 2017.

During my recent meeting with British nationals living in the Pafos area, I stressed that, while any negotiations are difficult, we start at a point where there is quite a lot of common ground between the UK and EU27 in at least two of the three priorities for the negotiations. This is positive.

The Cypriot government have also been supportive to date, reflecting the excellent relations between our countries. I am reassured that Cyprus wants to make Brexit work, and the authorities are alive to the implications of it for British nationals here. The intention of both our countries is to keep the process of negotiation well intentioned, positive and productive.

I also noted at the meeting in Pafos that the exit process is likely to be complex, as apart from the main Brexit negotiations, there are at least 1000 other agreements covering trade, health, air service and taxation and other fields which will need to be negotiated with other countries.

As stated previously, a period of uncertainty is inevitable as we agree the changes from one state of affairs to another.  Until negotiations are concluded, it will not be possible to say with certainty what the impact of Brexit will be on British citizens living in Cyprus, or indeed Cypriots living in the UK. But until new arrangements are agreed, I expect there will be no changes to your current circumstances.

On issues of importance to you such as access to health care and pensions, I hope the position paper above will at least begin to show you the direction of travel of the negotiations.

The information below may also be useful to you, in light of the type of enquiries we are currently receiving:

  1. British nationals living in Cyprus as residents should apply for their MEU1 form (yellow slip), as proof of residency. Further information on how to do this can be found by clicking  here.
  2. If you have been living in Cyprus and have yet to register as resident you should visit you local Citizen Service Centre who will advise you on what you need to do.
  3. The Immigration Department has advised that British nationals who have been living in Cyprus since before its accession to the EU (2004) should arrange to have their Alien Registration Card (ARC) converted into an MEU1(yellow slip). This may affect those, in particular state pensioners, who are renewing the medical cards.
  4. Information about applying for Cypriot citizenship is available from the Ministry of Interior through the following link. If you have been on the island for 7 or more years you may be eligible to apply by clicking here:
  5. Overseas voting/ 15 years rule: The Government has reconfirmed that it is working towards addressing the 15-year rule for overseas electors in time for the scheduled General Election in 2020. Unfortunately parliamentary time did not allow the Government to bring in the Bill before the 8 June General Election. For those British citizens living abroad who have lived in the UK within the last 15 years and are therefore already eligible to vote, we encourage them to register by visiting uk/register-to-vote.

We will continue to make as much information available as we can, as the negotiating process goes forward.  British nationals in Cyprus can keep up to date with the work of the High Commission through:

I will also continue to engage with British nationals around the island on your concerns, with forthcoming open meetings with residents planned in Larnaca, Limassol and elsewhere in the autumn. Please follow us on social media for further details in due course.

Matthew Kidd.