Still struggling over new laws

Alan Campbell MP.
Alan Campbell MP.

Apart from the headline catching big Brexit votes, the government is struggling to get the laws in place to replace the European Union rules with UK rules before any deal happens.

These include big bills covering issues such as trade, immigration, farming and fishing.

But there are also the hundreds of bits of secondary legislation, which add the detail.

Here’s one example.

Last week the Commons dealt with the Healthcare (International) Arrangements Bill.

Currently, some 27 million people have a European Health Insurance Card, or EHIC for short.

It allows people on holiday, living or travelling abroad to access medical treatment as if they were residents of that country, with the home country paying.

Many countries commit to providing emergency care, but the EHIC covers more than that.

Since these cards were introduced in 2006 there have been around 250,000 treatments a year, saving UK citizens £1.2bn.

If there is to be a Brexit deal, new arrangements will have to be negotiated.

However, if we leave the EU without a deal, there won’t be any arrangements in place.

Insurers are already saying premiums will rise as a result of this, and, inevitably, some people will be unable to get cover at all.

We could keep EHICs if we stayed in the EEA, although we would also have to keep freedom of movement.

The government says to give it the powers and trust it to sort it out.

This is worrying for anyone arranging holidays or travel in Europe this year.

If you need an EHIC it’s still worth applying or renewing.

And contrary to the online adverts, EHICs are free – for now.