Portugal’s government has presented a draft law to safeguard rights of British residents after March 29th – Brexit Day
Proposal for a law to be submitted to parliament are centred around “the logic of reciprocity" with the treatment of Portuguese national’s resident in the UK serving as the template for the treatment of British residents in Portugal.
The Council of Ministers has approved a bill to be presented to parliament envisaging measures to protect British citizens if the UK formally leaves the European Union without an agreement, the dreaded ‘Hard Brexit.’
Measures already have been announced by the Council of Ministers on 17 January but now have been approved in a bill to be submitted to parliament which has only a few working days in which to be approved.
The new law will contain a "suspension clause" if equivalent treatment of nationals does not occur, according to Minister, Augusto Santos Silva.
As for the rights of Portuguese citizens in the United Kingdom, Santos Silva stressed that the British government "has already done" what the Portuguese government is now approving in order to guarantee protection to citizens after leaving the European Union.
"We would be satisfied" if the bill were not needed, which would mean that the UK and the European Union would have reached an agreement by 29 March. However, the adoption of measures at national level aims to "avoid chaos."
Santos Silva pointed out that British citizens in Portugal have until the end of 2020 to regularise their situation, with the British embassy estimating that there are, "a good ten thousand" who have not yet officially become residents.
The Council of Ministers also approved an open cheque for the Aliens and Borders Service (SEF) which needs to man borders and cope with the millions of British visitors to Portugal who soon will not be EU citizens.
The SEF will be able to purchase kit and hire more staff on border control and documentation duty. A further 116 SEF inspectors will be hired.
Santos Silva highlighted the right of residence and permanent residence, the recognition of professional status, access to the health service and the use and possibility of renewal for driving licences.
The minister said the government’s biggest worry is for any economic impact, so is underlining €50 million in support measures for Portuguese businesses to adapt to the reality of the EU without the UK and plans programmes to promote tourism.