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Belgium – No-deal Brexit contingency plan announced

The Belgian government has released draft legislation on how it would administer the status of U.K. citizens in Belgium in the event of a “no deal” Brexit.

Key points:
  • Transition period. If no deal is reached, Belgium would apply a transition period from March 30, 2019 to Dec. 31, 2020, during which U.K. citizens living in Belgium and their family members would be able to continue residing in Belgium based on their current status.
  • Work authorization. The legislation does not include specific provisions on work authorization, but it is anticipated that U.K. nationals would continue to have access to the Belgian labor market as EU nationals do during the transition period. Applications of U.K. nationals that are pending as of March 30 will fall under the scope of the transition.
  • New arrivals. Family members of U.K. citizens already in Belgium who arrive after March 29 would be given residency rights the same as qualifying EU nationals. U.K. nationals who apply for residence permits in Belgium after March 29 will be considered third-country nationals though it is likely that provisions will be introduced in the coming weeks to further clarify the process for U.K. nationals applying for residence permits during the transition period. 
Background

The U.K. is set to leave the European Union on March 29, and although the U.K. and the EU have negotiated a draft withdrawal agreement, the U.K. Parliament has not approved it. At this point, it appears likely that the U.K. will leave the EU without a deal. In preparation for this scenario, EU member states are releasing plans on how they will address the end of EU free movement as applied to U.K. citizens.

Deloitte’s View

The government’s proposals provide some certainty to employers and U.K. citizens in Belgium. While some post-Brexit and post-transition procedures remain unclear, it is likely that U.K. citizen employees will be able to continue working and residing in Belgium based on their current status through at least 2020. Per the drafted legislation, U.K. nationals who file residence permit applications in Belgium after March 29 will be considered third-country nationals however, it is expected that additional post-transition procedures, which will likely be based on reciprocity with the U.K, will be introduced in the coming weeks.

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