GENEVA: Britain and Switzerland have struck a deal to preserve the rights of each other’s nationals after Brexit, Bern announced Thursday, in the latest move to limit disruptions following Britain’s EU departure.
The rights of the estimated 43,000 British nationals living in Switzerland and the 35,000 Swiss residing in Britain have previously been covered by an accord between Bern and the European Union.
The new deal, approved by the Swiss Federal Council on Wednesday, safeguards the rights of those who have already migrated but does not guarantee free movement of people who may wish to move between the two countries in the future.
The agreement preserves existing residency rights, social security claims and recognition of professional qualifications.
It includes provisions for two possible Brexit scenarios.
If London and Brussels sign a divorce deal that establishes a transition period, then Switzerland will continue to apply its EU free movement agreement to British nationals during the transition.
But if Britain crashes out of the EU without a deal, Switzerland said it will “provisionally apply” its new bilateral deal with Britain from March 30, 2019.
The Swiss government is pursuing a strategy dubbed “Mind the Gap”, which is intended to stabilise British ties after Brexit.
Earlier this week, Bern and London signed an agreement guaranteeing that flights between the two countries can continue uninterrupted even if Britain opts to leave the EU without a deal.