The Italian Government has now published the “Decreto-Legge 25 marzo 2019 n. 22”, which outlines contingency measures in place for a No Deal Brexit. These measures will only apply if by 11 April 2019 the UK has not come to any other agreement with the EU on the terms of Brexit. The law sets out procedures for handling British citizens (and their non-EU family members) who were registered as resident in Italy before the date on which a withdrawal without an agreement might occur. From that date all British citizens resident in Italy will be ‘extra comunitari’, that is third country nationals.
Here is a link to the published law (Italian only): –
The articles relevant for British citizens’ rights are 14, 15, and 17.
The Decreto enters into force today, 26 March, 2019, but the articles pertaining to citizens’ rights shall take effect only in the case of a No Deal Brexit. If the deal is ratified by the UK Parliament, the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement shall apply instead. Italian law allows for a 60-day period from the date of entering into force of the Decreto during which time amendments and modifications can be made by parliament.
Some things the Decreto makes clear are:
- The Decreto creates a transition period from the date of Brexit, for all British citizens resident in Italy at that date, until the date we obtain a new status following an application to the Questura, up to the end of December 2020.
- The status which we can apply for if we have been resident in Italy for 5 years or more at the date of Brexit is the “permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo”, a status which is provided for in both EU and Italian law for long term resident ‘extra comunitari’/third country nationals.
- You lose the new status if you are away from the EU (which will of course no longer include the UK) for a year or away from Italy for over 6 years.
- In calculating the 5 years residence required for the new long term residence status, you are only permitted to have been away from Italy for periods not exceeding 6 months individually and a cumulative total of 10 months in the 5 years.
- If you have been resident for less than 5 years, you can apply for a temporary permesso di soggiorno for 5 years, and that can be converted to a long-term permesso after 5 years legal and continuous residence.
- The Decreto makes clear that Italy would like to continue the arrangements for reciprocal health care (including the S1 scheme) until the end of 2020.
- We will be subject to finger-printing and have to pay a fee between €80 and €200 for the new status.
- Any British resident who does not apply to the Questura by 31 December 2020 to change her or his status in accordance with the above provisions, will be subject to the laws requiring visas, work permits etc. applicable to all other extra comunitari. Any existing residence permit will become invalid on 1 January 2021.
- Any British citizen who, by the withdrawal date, meets the current requirements for applying for Italian citizenship based on 4 years residence will be able to apply under those terms up to 31 December 2020.
The drafting of the Decreto raises many questions, and British in Italy have obtained an urgent meeting with the Italian Brexit coordinator to discuss these further.
Some of the big issues are:
- The absences allowed while calculating the 5 years residence period are much less generous than those for EU citizens and are expressed as a condition of acquiring long term residence as a third country national. The cumulative total of 10 months is particularly concerning and might well have been exceeded by many who have been out of Italy quite lawfully while the UK was a member of the EU – whether to study, on holiday, for short periods of work or to look after a family member. Furthermore, many will have no proper record of the dates of absences.
- Although we will no longer be EU citizens from Brexit date to end of transition period, the Decreto says nothing about our status or rights in the meantime.
- What is not clear is whether we can, as we have previously been told, get our new status with its ‘permesso di soggiorno UE per soggiornanti di lungo periodo’ or its temporary ‘permesso di soggiorno’ almost automatically by proving simply that we are iscritti in the anagrafe or whether we have to satisfy all the conditions for this status such as a minimum income and possibly health insurance.
- However welcome is the intention to continue reciprocal healthcare, it is not a guarantee that it will happen as it is “subject to reciprocity”. It is not clear whether reciprocity requires that the UK should provide Italians living there with healthcare (as it is doing) or that the UK should have to sign a bilateral agreement on the subject, which has not yet been done. If a bilateral agreement is required, then we will have to wait to see if one is made after Brexit as the EU States are not engaging in bilateral discussions at the moment.
We will be working intensively during the next 60 days to ensure that the final version of the Italian contingency legislation grants us rights as close as possible to those that we now hold as EU citizens.
British in Italy
27 March 2019