Post-Brexit forums for British nationals in Belgium


Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels are all hosting Brexit briefings for UK citizens living in Belgium, with representatives on hand to answer individual questions

Nine days and counting

As the UK prepares to exit the EU at the stroke of midnight on 31 January, Open Forums are planned in Ghent, Antwerp and Brussels. The events are for British citizens living in Belgium.

British Ambassador Martin Shearman will welcome attendees at the latest events organised by the Brussels British Community Association (BBCA). Embassy colleagues will staff various topic-based stands for British citizens to ask specific questions, such as about residency or health care.

While the UK is leaving the EU with a deal on citizen’s rights, negotiations will continue in the 11-month transition period. UK nationals in Belgium, including their children, are being urged to make sure that their Belgian residence cards are up to date by the end of 2020. Registered nationals will be contacted by their municipalities about obtaining new cards, thereby retaining their right to live, work and receive social benefits.

Among the major concerns for the British community is freedom of movement – the right to live and work in the European Union. Another key issue is repatriation to the UK for Britons and for family members with other EU nationalities. The current offer allows for immediate family to relocate to the UK under the EU settlement scheme until 29 March 2022.

Papers, please

The British embassy has confirmed that the Belgian government has been open and collaborative in its discussions. Each member state in the EU has the freedom to decide how to implement the various legal requirements of the withdrawal agreement, with many following the lead of how the UK treats its own EU nationals. 

The British embassy is making efforts to contact “hard to reach” UK citizens in Belgium and is continuing to run a series of outreach events across the country. The embassy is also working with the BBCA, an umbrella group for British associations, in encouraging Britons to protect their rights.

“The main message is: Make sure your papers are in order,” said BBCA vice-chair Tim Reynolds. “We are here, as we always have been, for the British community and anglophone organisations in and around Brussels.”

Open Forum Ghent 23 January, Antwerp 27 January, Brussels 25 February. All are from 18.00 to 20.00. Advance registration is required.

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