John Marshall, the British ambassador to Luxembourg, began by recognising the shock that the vast majority of individuals felt at the Brexit referendum result. Though he didn’t think that the agreement was comprehensive at this stage, he hoped that it would help ease some ambiguity. Marshall said that he was enthusiastic about promising UK citizens that negotiations with EU officials were ongoing, and various issues were yet to be sufficiently refined.
Marshall also explained that during the implementation period, until Brexit was completed, UK citizens would continue to have the same rights as they previously have had.
Frances Lloyd from Britain’s Department for Exiting Europe then ran the audience through the main points of the agreement, which was a result of 6-month long negotiations between the EU and UK.
Among the previsions Lloyd summarised:
Residency: If you have permanent residency at the time of Brexit, you will be able to continue staying here. If you have not completed your 5-year stay, you will be granted temporary leave in order to reach the 5-year mark.
Social security and healthcare: If one is accessing healthcare with a European Health Insurance Card, one will be able to continue doing so after Brexit, until his/her return to the UK. Similarly, contributions to pensions in EU countries will be accounted for during the withdrawal of one’s pensions in the UK.
Cross-border workers (those working in one EU country, and residing in another): Until the time one’s contract in the EU country where it was instituted pre-Brexit expires, he/she will be able to continue working there and maintaining residency elsewhere, Lloyd said.
Professional and educational qualifications: The qualifications recognised before Brexit, as well as those in process of recognition during Brexit, will be accepted. After Brexit, the rules for qualifications gained in the UK remain unclear. Currently it’s understood that one’s qualifications (unless falling in a special category) will only be officially recognised only in the UK, or the EU country where one holds residency.
The DexEU representative was not able to detail how other rights of UK citizens who continue to live in the EU after Brexit would change.
The final speaker, Fiona Godfrey of Brill, passionately advocated for more clarity from the UK government. She specifically asked London to resolve issues related to free movement and students rights.
The event was unable to entirely address the apprehensions amongst several audience members. As Vivian Craig, a self-employed UK citizen who attended the talk, put it: “if anything, it underlined the confusion and uncertainty.”
Similarly, for Christopher George, a professional working in private aviation, the discussion only strengthened his keenness to gain Luxembourg citizenship.
Godfrey told Delano on the sidelines of the event that Brill is open to queries from individuals, especially from young professionals who are concerned about their futures. She said to contact Brill via social media.
Though the worry in the room after the discussion was palpable, and questions remained unanswered, hope for more clarity continues; as Marshall said, “This is not the end of the story.”