PRAGUE — The Czech government on Monday approved a bill to regulate relations between the Czech Republic and Britain in the event of a "no deal" Brexit, Interior Minister Jan Hamacek said.
The clock is ticking down to Brexit on March 29, when Britain, the world’s fifth-biggest economy, divorces from the European Union, its main trading partner.
The British parliament is set to vote next week on Prime Minister Theresa May’s unpopular Brexit deal with the European Union. A defeat could potentially send Britain crashing out of the EU without an agreement with Brussels in place.
The Czech draft law includes the introduction of a transition period until December 31, 2020, during which British citizens living and working in the Czech Republic will be treated like citizens of the European Union.
According to Hamacek, the legislation would apply to some 5,000 Britons working in the Czech Republic.
"If we don’t adopt this law, we will compromise the situation of some 40,000 Czech citizens living in Britain, which is something we don’t want," Hamacek was quoted as saying by the Czech CTK news agency.
Interior ministry figures show that overall, there are around 8,000 Britons living in the Czech Republic, a central European EU member of 10.5 million people.
Parliament is expected to vote on the legislation in the coming weeks.
Once adopted, the law will only apply to British citizens who took up residence in the Czech Republic before Britain leaves the European Union.
The draft legislation is in line with a European Commission recommendation that post-Brexit transitional periods in EU countries should not run beyond the end of 2020. – AFP