Brexit: like a perfume of anxiety among some Britons from Belgium
It has been known since 20 February that the British referendum on keeping the United Kingdom in the European Union (EU) will be held on 23 June.
(http://www.rtbf.be/info/monde/europe/detail_referendum-sur-le-maintiendu-royaume-uni-dans-l-ue-le-23-juin?id=9218664). At an EU summit devoted almost exclusively to Brexit, David Cameron obtained from his European partners the special status he was seeking for the United Kingdom. In exchange, and as promised, he will campaign for his country’s continued membership of the EU.
If there is indeed a section of the British population that is aware of this issue, it is expatriates, especially those working in or around the European institutions.
In Belgium, there are about 200,000 Britons. They represent 2% of the Belgian population, making them the eleventh foreign nationality in Belgium. Most of them work in Brussels as European civil servants, lobbyists, journalists,… For them, the prospect of a Brexit is not necessarily a good thing and even worries some of these workers. Some British European officials have already taken steps to obtain another European nationality.
Concern but no dramatization
Felix Geradon is Deputy General Secretary of Union Syndicale, one of the main trade unions of the European civil service. He admits that he feels this concern on the part of British civil servants but puts it into perspective: “They are a little worried but not excessively so. In any case, we do not yet know how things are going to turn out. The withdrawal of a Member State from the European Union is something new. (…) There is no certainty in either direction”. Will these British civil servants still be allowed to work in the EU institutions, or, on the contrary, will they have to leave since they will no longer be nationals of a Member State? According to Felix Geradon, “the solution is likely to be somewhere in between”.
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