British expats to be barred from Belgian citizenship after Brexit

Published:  18 Dec at 6 PM
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An announcement by Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel states that UK expats living in the small country will not be allowed to take Belgian citizenship after Article 50 is triggered.

British citizens working in Brussels and other Belgian cities have been hoping to be able to apply for Belgian citizenship in order to stay in the country. Those with diplomatic ID cards may have been expecting an easy ride, but will now be told to leave along with the rest of the British expat community.

Until now, expats with British passports have been allowed visa-free entry, although a stay of longer than three months requires a residency permit permitting an indefinite stay. In the past, EU nationals who’ve worked in Belgium for an uninterrupted period of five years have been granted citizenship automatically, but may find themselves with no option but to leave after Brexit is triggered.

Following the announcement of the referendum result, media reports noted a large number of UK expats working in the country were applying for permanent residency but, to date, no reports have come in confirming their success. Michel’s announcement comes almost immediately after Theresa May’s poorly received request to European leaders for a swift resolution to the plight of EU citizens in the UK and UK expats living in Europe.

European Council president Donald Tusk’s description of the meeting was less than encouraging, with his reference to the ‘short, informal meeting’ hitting hard on hopes for a sensible outcome. He continued that the brief meeting reconfirmed the EU’s principles of indivisibility of the four freedoms, the balance of obligations and rights and the council’s rule of ‘no negotiation without notification.

Last week, outgoing president of the EU Parliament Martin Schultz revealed parliamentarians are working to create a three-step plan covering Britain’s exit from the European Community. In a revealing statement, he admitted he had underestimated the effect on the EU of Britain’s upcoming divorce. The plan, he said, would consist of a withdrawal, followed by a transitional stage and ending with the forging of a new relationship between the UK and the EU.

European officials are now insisting Britain should not be allowed to retain any of the benefits of EU membership after Brexit is finalised, but Shultz is still concerned over both sides’ seeming lack of understanding of the consequences of withdrawal. He believes Brexit will become a no-win situation for both sides.
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