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Old 24.03.2018, 11:10
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Re: Brexit (and other UK stuff) information roadshow in Swizterland

I attended the event in Vaduz yesterday evening; I'll try and remember most of it, apologies if I miss anything. It was a slightly different affair from the large events in Zurich and Basel. There were only 11 attendees so everyone got to ask lots of questions, and just the Ambassador talking, no project screens or video links or anything. The ambassador - inevitably I guess - was putting forward the views of the UK govt in its current flavour but seemed to have boned up a lot more compared with what previous posters have reported from the Basel and Zurich events.

General points:
1. There are 40,000 British citizens in CH [so few?] and 57 in FL.
2. CH is the UK's 2nd biggest export market outside the EU - only the US is larger
3. Now the transition period has been agreed this week, nothing will change until after 31.12.2020; that also applies to UK citizens looking to move to Switzerland as EU citizens
4. After that nobody really knows, because negotiations on that are only now "allowed" to start
5. UK/Swiss arrangements in the future are likely to be dependent on - or at least decided in light of - the UK/EU agreement, but both CH and UK have a strong interest in achieving some form of bilateral agreement, particularly on FOM
6. The intention is that anyone who has already exercised their FOM rights should be able to continue as they are, but "onward movement" is more unlikely
7. There is a private member's bill currently going through parliament to abolish the 15-year absence limit on voting rights, which is expected to go through smoothly, so those of us who have been out of the country for over 15 years will soon have our voting rights restored

In response to questions re after 31.12.2020:
- UK state pensions for EU/CH residents should continue to be uplifted along with those for UK residents as now
- EU students currently studying in the UK and those starting in autumn 2018 & 2019 will be able to finish their 3-year course no problem. Those starting in autumn 2020 have a question mark as there is a proposal that they will only be able to study for 2 years, which the ambassador said she felt is a bit odd given that UK courses are min 3 years
- One chap asked whether CH will re-impose quotas on UK citizens after Brexit as a third country - answer nobody knows
- Some people asking about their B permit status, what if they needed to leave CH for a couple of years for work then wanted to come back because their life is now here
- A question about being forced to move all your money out of CH back to the UK and close accounts here if you (are forced to) leave after Brexit and the tax implications and costs of that
- One chap grew up in London and did his schooling and university in the UK, but he and his whole family hold German passports, only his mother and younger sister hold UK passports - question, what happens if he wanted to return to the UK or e.g. needed to care for his British citizen mother? Ambassador didn't know; he would have to move back to the UK before Dec 2020 to take up residence to even have a chance of British citizenship
- Re my situation with the delivery of cross-border services with self-employed status, I've been asked to e-mail the ambassador because she was unaware of the provisions of the EU draft withdrawal agreement, partic. Art 32. She was assuring us that a self-employed UK citizen living in France would be able to work in CH as a frontalier, but hadn't considered that Art 32 on the face of it would appear to prevent a self-employed UK citizen living in CH from delivering services in France. She seem to confirm to me that the EU/CH bilaterals as they stand do not cover services. She said Art 32 as it seems to read is not what she understands both sides to want to achieve (see general point 6 above) and it is one she seems interested in raising with the UK govt
- I asked about whether the UK govt would support the moves from NL to take the issue of EU citizenship/possibility of associate EU citizenship to the European Court (Art 20 of Lisbon states that EU citizenship is additional to national citizenship) and the ambassador's response was that the European Commission is strongly against it and has deemed it illegal. To which my response was, I don't care what the Commission says, because they have vested interests just like anyone else - I care about whether the UK govt is going fight for the existing rights of its citizens abroad. I wasn't very reassured with the tenor of the response.

In summary: it was definitely a useful event to go to; there was, as expected, a lot of "we just don't know yet" but it clarified that that now relates to post 2020 i.e. there is now a little more breathing space. I was impressed that everyone in attendance was very pragmatic and non-political. I had expected some heated views on whether or not Brexit should or should not happen and some recriminations over the whole thing, but the only issue on which frustration was expressed was from those of us who had been denied the right to vote in the referendum. Otherwise it was very much focused on where do we go from here and how will it affect individual situations. The focus, unsurprisingly, was mostly on FOM.

Last edited by eng_ch; 24.03.2018 at 12:29.
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