Information about Brexit at the administrative branch of MSAH

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, together with other authorities and actors, has prepared for the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union without an agreement.

In its votes, the UK House of Commons has so far voted against the withdrawal agreement. If the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, this may have effects on areas such as social security and medicines.

Pharmaceutical service

Brexit may affect the availability of some medicines in the EU. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, together with pharmaceutical sector’s authorities and stakeholders, has explored the potential abnormal situations and the related risks. Steps have been taken to prepare for various scenarios.

In order to be granted marketing authorisation in the EU, medicines must meet the standards specified by the EU. If marketing authorisation has been granted in the UK, the pharmaceutical company in question must take steps to transfer the authorisation to another EU country. According to the Finnish Medicines Agency, the majority of pharmaceutical companies have transferred their marketing authorisations or activities to an EU or EEA country to make sure their operations can continue normally after Brexit. The Finnish Medicines Agency has issued guidelines to marketing authorisation holders and other organisations on how take the necessary action to prevent supply failures.

Situation updates will be provided, and cooperation with other actors in the pharmaceutical industry will continue in order to effectively manage the availability of medicines. If any problems arise, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical wholesalers and pharmacies will work with health care professionals to identify substituting products in order to ensure uninterrupted care to patients.

The Finnish National Institute for Health and Welfare has looked into the availability of vaccinations and established that, according to the information the Institute has received, availability problems will not occur.

Medical devices

National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health (Valvira) monitors medical devices in close cooperation with authorities of other EU Member States and the Commission. If Brexit enters into force, it causes problems for all authorities monitoring the safety of equipment. Joint approaches and practical arrangements to achieve a Brexit interpretation are currently being discussed, taking into account existing legislation.

Healthcare and social security

The right to social security is not based on citizenship but on whether you are working or living in Finland and staying here legally. With regard to Kela’s benefits, residence in Finland is usually determined in accordance with social security legislation. In other words, Kela decides whether you are entitled to social security because you live in Finland. 

If you live in Finland or are moving here, first your municipality of residence is determined under the Municipality of Residence Act. The Registry Office enters the information about your municipality in the Population Information System. Then, because you have a municipality of residence in Finland, you have the right to access the municipal health and social services. However, anybody staying in Finland will have access to urgent medical treatment and the basic social services, Some Kela benefits are only available to those who have a municipality of residence in Finland.

If you are a British national living in Finland

You will receive benefits if you are staying legally in Finland and living here permanently or working.

UK citizens’ right of residence is protected by a special act until 2020 if the UK leaves the EU without a withdrawal agreement. According to the act, the right of residence will continue for those British citizens who have registered their residence before the date of Brexit. The continued right of residence also secures British nationals’ right to social security because residence-based social security is only available to people who are staying in Finland legally. The act entered into force on 30 March 2019.

A municipality’s resident has the right to access the municipal health and social services. Therefore, if you are a British national, you should contact your Local Register Office before Brexit and check that your municipality of residence, which has been determined on the basis of an EU citizen’s right of residence, has been entered in the Population Information System.

If you are living or staying in the UK

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, if you are a beneficiary living in the UK, you will continue to receive your earnings-related pension and any benefits based on insurance covering accidents at work and occupational diseases. If you live in the UK, you can also apply for these Finnish benefits if you have been subject to the Finnish legislation on the basis of your work. 

Payment of national pension to pensioners living in the UK would stop in case of a no-deal Brexit because paying national pension benefits is based on EU legislation.  The aim is, however, to continue paying national pension benefits for one year after a no-deal withdrawal. A legislative proposal for continuing the payments is under preparation.

If you have left Finland to go to the UK to look for work and are using the U2 form, your right to receive unemployment allowance from Finland will end on the date when the UK leaves the EU. 

A no-deal withdrawal has also been taken into account in EU legislation. The EU Regulation (EU) 2019/500 establishing contingency measures in the field of social security coordination following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the Union was adopted on 25 March 2019. The Regulation will ensure that the principles of EU law will apply for the benefit of those who, for example, have worked both in the UK and in an EU member state and earned social security benefits. The Regulation is binding on all EU member states.

Industrial products

The Ministry is the competent market surveillance authority for personal protective equipment, machinery and cableways. These products are subject to European Union (EU) common product legislation.

If the UK leaves the European Union, it becomes a third country and such industrial products could no longer be imported freely to the EU market. British companies exporting products to the EU have been regarded as distributors. In the event of the UK’s exit from the EU, British companies would be regarded as importers and would have more extensive responsibilities than distributors.

Notified bodies (NB) are institutions that carry out the procedures for conformity assessment. Information about them is published in the European Commission’s NANDO system. If the UK leaves the EU, the British notified bodies will lose their right to act as notified bodies in the EU. This will not affect the products that have been placed on the market or put into service in the EU earlier and carry a type examination certificate or another conformity assessment document issued by a British notified body.

After Brexit, products will need a new conformity assessment document if conformity was assessed before Brexit by an institution located in the UK.

Market surveillance will not be affected whether or not the UK leaves the EU without a deal. The authority will continue to monitor that products are safe to use and that their documents and markings conform to the legal requirements.

The European Commission has published guidance for economic operators on Brexit.

Inquiries

Elina Asola, Senior Specialist, tel. +358 295 163 437, [email protected] (Pharmaceutical service)

Marja-Terttu Mäkiranta, Senior Ministerial Adviser, Legal Affairs, tel. +358 295 163 170, [email protected] (EU social welfare legislation)

Pirje Lankinen, Ministerial Adviser, tel. +358 295 163 488, [email protected] (Industrial products)