On 19 March 2019, the Danish parliament adopted the ‘Act to extend certain rights in connection with the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union without an agreement’. The Act is to ensure that British and Danish citizens having exercised the right to move freely between Great Britain and Denmark will enjoy the same rights as hitherto in a transition period. The Act will only come into force if Great Britain exits the EU without a withdrawal agreement.

There are currently many uncertainties in relation to Brexit, i.e. when Great Britain will in fact leave the EU, and whether a withdrawal agreement will have fallen into place at that time. Following the exit, Great Britain will no longer be considered an EU/EEA Member State, but a third country. The Act is therefore to ensure that British citizens currently staying in Denmark will maintain a number of the rights in a transition period which they have enjoyed hitherto under EU law.

British citizens in Denmark can breathe a sigh of relief - For the time being at least

As a third-country citizen, a person is generally not entitled to the rights to free movement and residence within the EU which apply between the EU Member States. A Brexit without a withdrawal agreement will therefore result in a number of rights being forfeited by British citizens who are staying and/or working within the borders of the EU.

The Act is to prevent an abrupt transition and ensure that British citizens staying in Denmark at the time of Brexit will maintain a number of rights under the EU rules in the transition period. This includes:

  • The right to stay in Denmark
  • The right to work in Denmark
  • The right to unemployment benefits, maternity leave and social pension
  • The right to equal treatment under the regulation on free movement of labour, ensuring that British citizens in Denmark will continue to be treated equally with EU citizens

The Act further implies that Danish citizens and other EU citizens may rely on the principle of equal treatment under the regulation on free movement of labour in relation to payments from Denmark when staying in Great Britain.

A Temporary scheme

The new Act is to ensure a smooth transition for especially British citizens staying in Denmark at the time of Brexit if there is no agreement with the EU. It will thus extend many of the rights enjoyed by those citizens under EU law today. However, it is important to note that it is only a temporary scheme which must be reconsidered when Great Britain’s relationship with the EU has been further clarified.

We will follow developments closely and keep you updated when there are new indications as to how the legal position will be for British citizens working in Denmark and Danish citizens posted in Great Britain.


Christian Vesterling