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EUROPEAN UNION

Denmark proposes legislation for UK citizens’ rights in event of no-deal Brexit

Denmark’s government has filed a bill providing for the rights of British citizens who live in the Scandinavian country in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Denmark proposes legislation for UK citizens' rights in event of no-deal Brexit
An pro-EU demonstrator in London. Photo:REUTERS/Kevin Coombs/Ritzau Scanpix

The 129-page bill, which was filed on Wednesday, provides for temporary continuation of the majority of rights currently enjoyed by British citizens who live in Denmark under European Union free movement rules.

The aim of the proposed legislation is to cushion the impact of the consequences for Brits in Denmark, should the United Kingdom leave the union without a withdrawal agreement, the Ministry for Immigration and Integration wrote in a press statement.

Provided it passes parliamentary procedure, the proposed legislation is expected to come into effect on March 30th, should a no-deal scenario occur.

The bill provides for a temporary transitional arrangement which would enable British citizens and their families to remain in the country under an extension of rules currently in place under EU freedom of movement.

This includes the right to reside and work in Denmark, entitlement to social welfare benefits including certain types of pension (efterløn, førtidspension and folkepension), access to the education and healthcare systems, and recognition of vocational qualifications transferred from the UK.

The bill will apply to UK citizens and their family members who are legally resident in Denmark under EU free movement rules at the time of withdrawal, according to the proposal text.

In previous guidance published on the Ministry of Immigration website, British citizens living in Denmark who have not already obtained an EU registration certificate (EU-registreringsbevis), or have not already applied for one, were strongly advised to do so prior to March 29th. Family members of Denmark-based British citizens required to apply for Danish residence via their family member’s status are also advised to do so before this date.

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British citizens who qualify for permanent residency (tidsubegrænset ophold) in Denmark in accordance with EU rules are also advised to apply for this prior to March 29th although the new legislation will grant permanent residency to those who qualify for it after this date. Permanent residency can be applied for after five years’ residence in Denmark under EU free movement rules.

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“The United Kingdom is fast approaching Brexit. This is the first time a member state will leave the EU and is therefore a unique situation,” Minister for Immigration Inger Støjberg said in Wednesday’s statement.

“If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, the (Danish government) wishes to ensure that the approximately 18,000 Brits who live in Denmark and who currently actively contribute to Danish society are not caught out,” Støjberg added.

The arrangement provided for by the bill is designed to be temporary and eventually be replaced by long-term agreements between the UK and the EU after Brexit, the Danish ministry writes in the statement.

A withdrawal agreement between British prime minister Theresa May and the EU was rejected by an overwhelming majority in the British parliament in January, and it remains unclear whether any agreement will be approved amid ongoing political turmoil in the UK.

Støjberg said in Wednesday’s statement that Denmark’s government “still hopes that the Brits [British parliament, ed.] approve the agreement made between the British government and the EU”, a view that has also been expressed by Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen.

If no agreement is voted through, the default outcome is a no-deal British withdrawal on March 29th.

READ ALSO: No-deal Brexit: Country by country guide to how the rights of Britons will be affected

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ENERGY

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

European governments are announcing emergency measures on a near-weekly basis to protect households and businesses from the energy crisis stemming from Russia's war in Ukraine.

How European countries are spending billions on easing energy crisis

Hundreds of billions of euros and counting have been shelled out since Russia invaded its pro-EU neighbour in late February.

Governments have gone all out: from capping gas and electricity prices to rescuing struggling energy companies and providing direct aid to households to fill up their cars.

The public spending has continued, even though European Union countries had accumulated mountains of new debt to save their economies during the Covid pandemic in 2020.

But some leaders have taken pride at their use of the public purse to battle this new crisis, which has sent inflation soaring, raised the cost of living and sparked fears of recession.

After announcing €14billion in new measures last week, Italian Prime Minister Mario Draghi boasted the latest spending put Italy, “among the countries that have spent the most in Europe”.

The Bruegel institute, a Brussels-based think tank that is tracking energy crisis spending by EU governments, ranks Italy as the second-biggest spender in Europe, after Germany.

READ ALSO How EU countries aim to cut energy bills and avoid blackouts this winter

Rome has allocated €59.2billion since September 2021 to shield households and businesses from the rising energy prices, accounting for 3.3 percent of its gross domestic product.

Germany tops the list with €100.2billion, or 2.8 percent of its GDP, as the country was hit hard by its reliance on Russian gas supplies, which have dwindled in suspected retaliation over Western sanctions against Moscow for the war.

On Wednesday, Germany announced the nationalisation of troubled gas giant Uniper.

France, which shielded consumers from gas and electricity price rises early, ranks third with €53.6billion euros allocated so far, representing 2.2 percent of its GDP.

Spending to continue rising
EU countries have now put up €314billion so far since September 2021, according to Bruegel.

“This number is set to increase as energy prices remain elevated,” Simone Tagliapietra, a senior fellow at Bruegel, told AFP.

The energy bills of a typical European family could reach €500 per month early next year, compared to €160 in 2021, according to US investment bank Goldman Sachs.

The measures to help consumers have ranged from a special tax on excess profits in Italy, to the energy price freeze in France, and subsidies public transport in Germany.

But the spending follows a pandemic response that increased public debt, which in the first quarter accounted for 189 percent of Greece’s GDP, 153 percent in Italy, 127 percent in Portugal, 118 percent in Spain and 114 percent in France.

“Initially designed as a temporary response to what was supposed to be a temporary problem, these measures have ballooned and become structural,” Tagliapietra said.

“This is clearly not sustainable from a public finance perspective. It is important that governments make an effort to focus this action on the most vulnerable households and businesses as much as possible.”

Budget reform
The higher spending comes as borrowing costs are rising. The European Central Bank hiked its rate for the first time in more than a decade in July to combat runaway inflation, which has been fuelled by soaring energy prices.

The yield on 10-year French sovereign bonds reached an eight-year high of 2.5 percent on Tuesday, while Germany now pays 1.8 percent interest after boasting a negative rate at the start of the year.

The rate charged to Italy has quadrupled from one percent earlier this year to four percent now, reviving the spectre of the debt crisis that threatened the eurozone a decade ago.

“It is critical to avoid debt crises that could have large destabilising effects and put the EU itself at risk,” the International Monetary Fund warned in a recent blog calling for reforms to budget rules.

The EU has suspended until 2023 rules that limit the public deficit of countries to three percent of GDP and debt to 60 percent.

The European Commission plans to present next month proposals to reform the 27-nation bloc’s budget rules, which have been shattered by the crises.

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