After Brexit, getting status should make it possible for Luxembourg citizens to continue working, studying and accessing social benefits.
Luxembourg’s ambassador to London Jean Olinger explained what steps Luxembourg residents in the UK should take as well as questions about Brexit which are still unresolved in a recent interview with our sister publication, Paperjam.
The UK’s withdrawal agreement from the European Union was approved on Wednesday 29 January by the European Parliament, and then Thursday 30 January by the European Council. Brexit therefore officially entered into force on Friday, 31 January.
The daily life of some 2,000 Luxembourg nationals living across the Channel (including around 1,200 students) will not change at all, however, from now on. It will depend on the outcome of the negotiations which will take place during the entire duration of the transitional phase, ie, until the end of 2020. In other words, the lives of Luxembourgers there will really change from 1 January 2021.
"Many questions remain unanswered until the end of negotiations on future relations between the UK and the EU. We will be very attentive to this, and the deadline is very short,” said Olinger.
Among other uncertainties: access and payment of social benefits and pensions, the treatment of temporarily posted workers, the recognition of diplomas or the pursuit and funding of research programs.
"The British government is very clear about its departure from the internal market and the customs union. The free movement of goods and people in particular will inevitably be impacted. The goal now is to negotiate to minimise friction as much as possible," Olinger said.
For residents of the UK, the first instinct is to apply for permanent resident status for all family members. Those who have lived there for more than 5 years can obtain a settled status, while those who have lived there for less than 5 years can claim a pre-settled status.
After Brexit, this status should make it possible to continue working, studying and accessing social benefits (public aid, NHS services) under the same conditions as today. Olinger estimates that already half of Luxembourg nationals have applied.
On the other hand, the fate of those who will come to settle in the UK from 2021 is entirely dependent on the negotiations.
In the meantime, very concrete issues arise, from the recognition of national identity papers and driving licences, to future obligations regarding work visas. If in doubt, a request for a passport and transcription of the driving licence from the British authorities is recommended.
As for students, who represent more than half of Luxembourg residents across the Channel, the question of the recognition of diplomas or work-study periods is in the balance. Just like the fact that the UK is still part of the Erasmus+ programme in 2021.
This eventuality is however possible. Currently, non-EU countries are participating in Erasmus+, such as Norway, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Turkey.
Role of the embassy
As for mobile workers, temporarily posted from Luxembourg to the UK and vice versa, they also expect to know the consequences in terms of work visa, travel insurance cover, or even ease of travel.
“Many people go back and forth between Luxembourg and London during the day, sometimes several times a week. Due to the changes in terms of the free movement of people, we hope that border crossings will remain as smooth as possible, as the links between the City and the Luxembourg financial centre are close, and no one has an interest in making them more difficult,” attests Olinger.
After the UK's actual exit from the EU, the role of the embassy itself is set to change. "The embassy assists Luxembourg citizens residing in the UK, promotes the economy and culture of Luxembourg, and also informs the political authorities of what is actually happening in the UK. The challenge will be for the embassy to further strengthen our bilateral relations as part of a new post-Brexit configuration," said Olinger.
European representation in the UK will also change: the European Commission office in London is replaced by a European delegation, which will cover the entire European spectrum.
This interview was translated from an article by Laura Fort on Paperjam.lu.