Prague, Oct 22 (CTK) – No increased interest of Czechs living in Britain in returning to their homeland has been registered in relation to the forthcoming Brexit, Foreign Minister Tomáš Petříček told journalists today.
“Everybody is waiting to see how the situation around Brexit will end,” he said.
Petříček and Interior Minister Jan Hamáček (both Social Democrats, CSSD) said the government recommended to Czechs living in Britain to apply for settled status as soon as possible in order to maintain their rights even after the United Kingdom leaves the European Union.
They said up to 100,000 Czech citizens were living in Britain according to unofficial data and some 22,000 had applied for the settled status so far.
“The registration has been functioning without any problems and is free,” Hamacek said.
Britain is to leave the EU at the end of the month.
Petříček said people would be allowed to apply for the settled status even a few months after Brexit, but there was no reason to postpone the step.
He said there were more clerks at the Czech embassy in London and the consulate in Manchester and the diplomacy established helplines for Czechs over Brexit.
Hamáček and Petříček pointed out that the Brexit deadline of October 31 might be delayed and all depended on the British parliament now.
Petříček said EU member states were open to a two-month delay. The delay would have to be based on a British request and a letter that British PM Boris Johnson wrote last week could be considered such a request, he added.
Hamáček said Brexit should not influence cooperation between the Czech and British police. He recalled that the United Kingdom was the EU country to which the highest number of Czech requests for extradition of a prosecuted person was sent.
Petříček said negotiations about EU-UK future relations had to start after Brexit. It is important for Czechia that the United Kingdom shows interest in closer interconnection with the EU in security cooperation, for example in the Permanent Structured Cooperation (PESCO) and the European Defence Fund (EDF), he said.