Are you a UK citizen living or working in the Brussels region? The Expat Welcome Desk (managed by the Commissioner.Brussels office) wants to hear from you! How has Brexit affected your life and what challenges have you faced interacting with local administration? Please take a few minutes to fill in this survey or read on to learn about the new EU-funded project to update the advice offered through the Expat Welcome Desk.
UK citizens are an important part of the cosmopolitan tapestry of life in Brussels. The Brussels-Capital Region has for many decades had a large community of British “expats” - residents who are UK citizens. Like all of Brussels diverse communities, the British in Brussels contribute significantly to the economic prosperity and intellectual capital of the Region, as well as its cultural vibrancy. Brexit does nothing to change these facts, but it did have a major impact on both the Region’s long-term and newly arrived UK residents.
During the post-referendum negotiations, UK nationals already living in Brussels were in a legal limbo. The Withdrawal Agreement now guarantees their residence and work rights, an achievement that Belgium has mainly implemented through the new M-Card.
UK citizens who have settled in Brussels more recently, since the end of the transition period, or who are now thinking of coming to live in the country are subject to the same conditions applicable to all third-country nationals.
Third-country national refers to an individual who does not have the citizenship of a state which is a member of the EU or the Schengen Zone, nor of an associated state (Iceland, Norway, Liechtenstein or Switzerland). Nevertheless, despite the increasing clarity of their situation, UK citizens living in or moving to Brussels face ongoing challenges or confusion relating to their status and rights.
As the one of the Region’s primary providers of advice to International Brusselers, especially through our Expat Welcome Desk, the Commissioner.Brussels office has supported UK citizens in these difficult times. The Expat Desk is a hub of expertise on the administrative difficulties which impact the British in Brussels. Now they have launched a new project, funded by the EU’s Brexit Adjustment Reserve, to update the information and advice and support their offer to UK citizens in the post-Brexit era.
The Brexit Impact Scan – the Survey
The first step in this project is a Brexit Impact Scan to understand the reality of post-Brexit life for UK citizens in Brussels. One aspect of this is a short survey where you can tell the Office which administrative challenges you have or have not been facing since the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.
Whether you moved to the Brussels region before or after the transition period, your experiences matter! They are also interested in the opinions of UK citizens who are considering a move to Brussels, so feel free to share this survey around to friends and colleagues. Participants will not be identifiable from their responses, and the unprocessed data will not be shared outside of the Commissioner.Brussels office.
SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCE
Other actions and next steps
This survey is only the beginning of the Expat Welcome Desk's Brexit Adjustment Reserve project, but the responses will shape everything that is done later. The Expat Welcome Desk is also engaging legal experts to work on some of the trickiest questions facing UK citizens in Brussels. This knowledge and advice will be shared through the Expat Welcome Desk’s website and other online channels. A series of events are also planned where UK citizens can learn and discuss these issues. The BBCA hope to support these events and encourage participation from the community. More news soon!