STA, 20 March 2019 - The National Assembly passed on Wednesday the act addressing potential uncertainties and safeguarding the rights of Slovenian citizens in Great Britain and vice-versa in case of a no-deal Brexit. The government-proposed act was endorsed by 50 of the 66 present MPs, while four voted against.
The act aims to preserve rights related to social security, labour market access, cross-border services, mutual recognition of professional qualifications, family allowances and scholarships for the period until 31 December 2020.
While a more long-term solution will be drawn up to tackle the period after 2020, the government said that the reciprocity principle was envisaged for certain rights, meaning they will be secured for British citizens only if the same is done in the UK for Slovenian citizens.
The act also envisages a transitional period after Brexit during which British citizens will be able to continue to legally reside in Slovenia on the basis of permits issued to them as EU citizens.
It will enable them to obtain residence permits of the kind that are being issued in the form of biometric IDs to citizens of third countries, while obtaining long-term residence status will also be possible.
Moreover, the act regulates the tourist stay rights for British citizens for a duration of up to 90 days in case they arrive in Slovenia before the date of the UK's departure from the EU.
If British citizens do not have a valid residence registration certificate or a residence permit before Brexit and enter Slovenia after Brexit, their entry and residence will be regulated by the provisions of the foreigners act in place for citizens of countries that are not part of the European Economic Area.
Many MPs said during the debate on the fast-tracked act that the current situation surrounding Brexit was rather uncertain, and that Slovenia should thus prepare for the worst-case scenario or a no-deal Brexit.
Some of them also pointed out that the status and rights of Slovenian citizens in the UK and vice versa must be preserved, and that reciprocity in the protection of their rights should be ensured.
The deputy group of the opposition Democrats (SDS) had announced it would abstain from voting because the act was incomplete and failed to provide sufficient protection to the estimated 5,000 Slovenian citizens in the UK.
The SDS was also critical of the government for coming up with such an act only days ahead of the scheduled date of Brexit.
The opposition Left said that the act was being discussed relatively late, while Zmago Jelinčič of the opposition National Party (SNS) said the proposal was a "mess and completely absurd".
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