The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union

 

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On January 15th, British Parliament rejected the proposed Withdrawal Agreement negotiated with the EU. This does not necessarily mean that a so-called ‘hard Brexit’ (no-deal scenario) will take place. At this stage, all possible scenarios remain viable.

Considering the current uncertainties surrounding Brexit, it is possible the information on this website will evolve in light of political decisions. This information does not constitute legal advice, something which neither the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs, nor the Belgian embassy in London can provide.

As the withdrawal of the UK from the EU (‘Brexit’) approaches, the Protocol Directorate of the Federal Public Service (FPS) Foreign Affairs, Foreign Trade and Development Cooperation is often contacted by holders of special identity cards, who wish to know the impact this will have on their right of residence. In this regard, the Protocol Directorate can confirm the following: the right to obtain and hold a special identity card is not linked to the nationality of the holders, but rather to their function or their status as family members of officials. As long as a person is employed by an international organization, a consulate or a diplomatic mission, that person, as well as his family members, will be entitled to obtain a special identity card, regardless of whether or not the UK is a member of the EU.

As regards the right to reside in Belgium under the locally applicable legislation, the Protocol Directorate confirms that, after holding a special identity card type P for five years, EU nationals are entitled to an E+ card, which grants permanent residency. (If certain conditions are met, EU nationals who retire are entitled to permanent residency before the end of the above-mentioned five-year period.) However, holders of special identity cards who wish to register with their municipality of residence while still employed by their international organisation, consulate or diplomatic mission, should bear in mind that this may affect their privileges and immunities. According to the Vienna Convention on Diplomatic Relations (1961), the Vienna Convention on Consular Relations (1963) and some host country agreements, the sending State (or Organization), not the employees themselves, can waive the privileges of its agents; this waiver must always be express.

Finally, questions regarding Belgian nationality fall under the sole responsibility of the FPS Justice. Therefore, the FPS Foreign Affairs respectfully requests that questions on this matter be addressed to the FPS Justice or the municipality of residence.
 

  • Impact if the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU with a withdrawal agreement: Deal
  • Impact if the United Kingdom withdraws from the EU without a withdrawal agreement: No deal