Brexit: new INPS clarifications

16 August 2021

Following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland from the European Union and applying the Trade and Cooperation Agreement (TCA) and the Protocol on Social Security Coordination (PSSC), with circular no. 98 dated 8 July 2021, INPS has provided operating instructions on social security and how to exchange information between social security institutions.

Clarifications were provided on the applicability of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) referred to in INPS circular no. 16 of 4 February 2020.

The legislation development

This circular explains the development of the complex regulatory situation, most recently described by the Institute in Circular no. 53 of 6 April 2021.

The United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union was achieved in a first phase by an agreement, called Withdrawal Agreement or “WA”, signed on 24 January 2020 and entered into force the following 1 February.

The WA provided for a transitional period during which EU social security law continued to apply to the UK. The regulatory and operational features of this transitional period, which ended on 31 December 2020, were described by INPS in Circular no. 16 of 4 February 2020.

At the end of the transitional period, on 24 December 2020, the parties signed a Trade and Cooperation Agreement (“TCA”) supplemented by the Protocol on social security coordination (“PSSC”).

It is worth noting that – in addition to what is stated in Circular no. 16/2020 – INPS specified that “the WA continues to protect those falling within its scope, even after 31 December 2020. The WA continues to apply to EU citizens resident in the United Kingdom by 31 December 2020 and to UK citizens resident in a Member State by the same date. As a result, the TCA and PSSC, which is part of it, generally apply to situations not covered by the WA.”

The TCA thus constitutes the legal basis on which future cooperation between the European Union, the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland will be based, once the legal effects of the WA have been exhausted.

The Protocol on Social Security Coordination (“PSSC”)

The PSSC is relevant to the social security issue. On this point, INPS recalled that, as already stated in the above Circular no. 53/2021, the provisions on international aggregation for the assessment of entitlement and the calculation of benefits continue to be applied under the Protocol’s scope, under article SSC.7, entitled “Aggregation of periods.”

This applies to “insurance periods, facts or situations after 31 December 2020”.

The Circular clarifies that the above aggregation of insurance periods accrued in the United Kingdom and Italy can apply to sickness and maternity/paternity benefits, confirming the specific provisions of Title III of EC Regulation 883/2004.

Finally, it is specified that the PSCC does not include family benefits. In relations between Italy and the United Kingdom, these benefits find application in Article 2, paragraph 6-bis, of decree-law no. 69 of 13 March 1988, converted into Law no. 153, in relation to non-EU countries that have not entered into bilateral conventions or agreements with Italy on family benefits.

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