Social coordination remains largely intact.

UM – 01/2021

The transitional period ended on 31st December 2020: The United Kingdom (UK) has withdrawn from the EU single market, the customs union and other EU policies, and the current withdrawal agreement will be replaced by the new Trade and Cooperation Agreement (Partnership Agreement). This will involve far-reaching changes. However, when it comes to social matters, the “Partnership Agreement” means that EU law will continue to apply in many cases. And that is a good thing.

The “Partnership Agreement” will apply to new cases

Having succeeded in reaching an agreement, in principle, at the last minute, the “Partnership Agreement” is now awaiting ratification but it can be applied provisionally. Under the “Partnership Agreement”, a provisional distinction is to be made between existing and new cases.

The “Withdrawal Agreement” will continue to be applied to "existing cases"

The new “Trade and Cooperation Agreement” essentially assumes the arrangements for coordinating the social security systems included in EU Regulation Nos. 883/2004 and 987/2009. Starting from the 1st January 2021 it will be applied to all cases or situations that did not previously have a cross-border element. For situations that started before the end of the year, the coordination rules apply under the conditions set out in the “Withdrawal Agreement”. This came into force on the 1st February 2020. 

The EHIC remains valid

This means that as before, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can still be used for temporary stays in the United Kingdom. The same applies in the case of UK nationals needing treatment in an EU member state. This is because cross-border sickness benefits will continue to apply, in principle, under the new “Trade and Cooperation Agreement”. Over time, the EHIC will have to be replaced in the UK by new formats establishing proof of entitlement. People covered by the “Withdrawal Agreement” will have to apply to a UK institution for a EHIC in a new design or a PRC (Provisional Replacement Certificate). This applies, for example, to workers sent to the UK. Students, who are resident in the UK and are already studying in a member state before the turn of the year will be issued with an EHIC or PRC valid for a limited period of time and only for the country they are studying in.

Not everything is retained

However, long-term care benefits are no longer transferable under the new “Trade and Cooperation Agreement”. The same applies to family, unemployment and disablement benefits. Previously, workers insured in an EU member state could also work in the UK for 24 months without having to be insured there. The domestic insurance was retained. Under the new legal situation, the principle that insurance must be obtained in the country to which the worker was sent will apply. However, under a corresponding notification, the sending abroad rule included in Coordination Regulation 883/2004 will continue to be applied and the insurance can be maintained in the country from which they were sent. However, exceptions that were possible in the past, such as an extension to the 24-month period, will no longer be permitted in the future.

UK: Health fee becomes due

Another drawback: EU citizens will now also have to pay an annual Immigration Health surcharge (IHS) of 400 pounds when they move to the UK. This fee, which has been levied since 2015, was introduced to discourage "immigration into the UK's free state healthcare system". However, you can have this fee reimbursed.