The Malta Independent 16 October 2019, Wednesday

Government will run drill for no-deal Brexit scenario

Tuesday, 8 October 2019, 18:46 Last update: about 7 days ago

The government is prepared for all and any Brexit eventuality and is determined to take care of the country and its citizens, Minister for EU Affairs & Equality Edward Zammit Lewis said at the launch of the government's Brexit: Be Prepared campaign.

He said that preparations are now centred on a no-deal Brexit as this seems to be the most likely eventuality, even though it is not what Malta would like to see.  He noted that a lot of contingency plans have been put in place and that various briefings and social campaigns will soon be launched, while adding that businesses and SMEs will also be given a check-list to aid their preparations.

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Zammit Lewis told journalists that a Brexit drill will be run to gauge readiness in the case of a no-deal withdrawal for the UK.  The drill would pertain to various departments within the government, although a date is yet to be set for it.

Principal Permanent Secretary Mario Cutajar said that the government will remain committed to making Malta the most UK-friendly country in Europe in the post-Brexit era and noted that preparations in various sectors such as medicines, customs, and aviation along in terms of dealing with UK residents in Malta had been ongoing for months.

The head of the EU Coordination Department Glenn Micallef said that a number of preparatory points have been put in place to prepare for the eventuality that the UK may exit the EU without a deal, noting that if the UK does leave without a deal it would immediately be considered a third-country.

Various points were underlined in Micallef's presentation, dealing with a number of sectors. What is certain is that a number of new regulations in a variety of sectors will come into being if a no-deal Brexit occurs.

For British citizens in Malta, the government through a legal notice will allow UK citizens who arrive in Malta before 31 October to apply for a special status which will ensure the protection of their rights in the job market and in fields such as education, health services, and social services. This would run for 10 years before it needs to be renewed, and these citizens would not require a work-permit to work in Malta.

Maltese citizens in the UK before 31 October meanwhile will be able to benefit from the EU Settlement Scheme and can, up to the end of 2020, apply at the British Home Office website for free. If accepted, they will retain all their rights indefinitely, and their relatives can join them through this scheme up till 29 March 2022. There will be new checks and tests for those going to the UK between 31 October and the end of 2020, and anyone going to the UK after 2020 will be allowed in based on a point-based systems.  Any EU citizens staying in the UK for 90 days or less will not need a visa. 

In terms of education, plans have been made for the Erasmus exchange programme; where students on an Erasmus programme in the UK before Brexit will not have their grants affected by a no-deal Brexit, although it is yet to be seen whether the UK will keep participating in Erasmus.

In terms of security, the UK will lose its access to EU security systems such as Schengen, but Malta will continue to cooperate on security matters with the UK including through Interpol.

Tourism will be affected indirectly, while there will be new rules on customs importation of vehicles, and their VAT and registration procedures.  Alternative sources have been found for medicines imported from the UK, and where this was not possible, medication from the UK has been stockpiled.

The bilateral healthcare agreement that existed between Malta and the UK will remain in place. This includes emergency care for those travelling to the UK for short periods, but the European Health Insurance Card will not remain valid.


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