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EUROPEAN UNION

‘Of course you can stay’ in event of no-deal Brexit: Danish PM to British citizens

Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen has confirmed that British citizens living and working in Denmark will be allowed to stay in the country if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a withdrawal agreement.

'Of course you can stay' in event of no-deal Brexit: Danish PM to British citizens
Prime Minister Lars Løkke Rasmussen. File photo: Mads Claus Rasmussen/Ritzau Scanpix

The British parliament is set to vote later this month on the agreement reached between Prime Minister Theresa May and EU negotiators in November, with the deal widely expected to be rejected by MPs in London.

That means increased likelihood of the UK leaving the union on March 29th with no agreement.

A so-called no-deal Brexit would put the ability of UK citizens to stay in Denmark under current conditions in doubt.

But Rasmussen moved to ease the concerns of Denmark-based Brits in a social media post on Saturday.

Responding to journalist Peter Kenworthy, a contributor with The Local, the PM wrote that “of course (Brits) can stay here (in Denmark)”.

“We are preparing legislation (for a no-deal Brexit) that we hope won't be necessary,” the PM further elaborated.

It is not the first time Rasmussen has moved to reassure UK citizens over their futures in Denmark. In another Twitter post in December, he wrote he had “clearly said that, in the case of hard Brexit, we will look after British citizens in Denmark. But I still hope for an agreement.”

In his speech at the opening of parliament in October, Rasmussen also addressed the rights of Brits if no deal was reached.

“We are employing customs officers and preparing the system. But I want to make it abundantly clear that no matter the end result of the negotiations, we will of course look after the thousands of British citizens living in Denmark today. This is only fair,” he said.

Other EU countries, including Sweden, France, Italy and Spain, have recently joined Rasmussen in making official statements over the future rights of British citizens living in those countries after a potential no-deal Brexit.

The EU Commission has said in its plan for a no-deal Brexit that leaving the EU without a deal “would have an impact on (the rights of British citizens) to stay and work where they currently live.”

Member states were invited in the statement to “take a generous approach to the rights of UK citizens in the EU, provided that this approach is reciprocated by the UK”.

On its website, the Danish Ministry of Immigration and Integration currently states that Denmark will consider the rights of British citizens in Denmark in the event of a no deal-Brexit after negotiations between the UK and the EU have concluded. Although the EU has stated no further negotiations will take place following November's agreement with May, the British parliament is yet to accept or reject that deal.

“I have digitally ‘stalked’ Lars Løkke Rasmussen, (Foreign Minister Anders) Samuelsen, (Justice Minister Søren) Pape Poulsen and the Ministry of Integration since October to get an answer on this matter,” Kenworthy said.

“Not because I blame Denmark in an answer to this matter not being forthcoming, but because the EU says it's up to the member states to settle it and since (no-deal) Brexit is getting close,” the journalist added.

SEE ALSO: WATCH: Brexit is 'tragedy', Danish government will 'look after' Brits in Denmark: PM

BREXIT

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don’t want to return home

The majority of Britons who live in the EU, Norway, Iceland or Switzerland and are protected under the Brexit agreement feel European and intend to remain in Europe permanently, but many have concerns about travel problems, a new survey reveals.

Brexit: Brits in EU feel European and don't want to return home

The research also shows that problems exist and “travel is where most issues relating to the new status currently occur”. For instance, border officials are still stamping passports of UK citizens with residence rights under the EU UK withdrawal agreement, even though they shouldn’t.

“There is constant confusion around passport stamping. I was ‘stamped in’ to France on a short trip… but could not find anyway to be ‘stamped out’ again. I think I can only spend 90 days in other EU countries, but have no idea how anyone can check or enforce that – until someone decides to try. It’s a mess,” was one of the answers left in an open question.

“Every time I go through a Schengen border control, I need to provide both my passport and Aufenthaltstitel card [resident permit in Germany] and watch to check that they don’t stamp my passport. As I am currently travelling a lot that’s been 20-odd times this year…” another respondent said.

The survey was carried out by Professor Tanja Bueltmann, historian of migration and diaspora at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, between October and November 2022. About 1,139 UK citizens replied.

Of these, 80 per cent found acquiring their new status easy or very easy, 60.7 per cent feel their rights are secure, while 39.3 per cent have concerns about their status going forward.

Staying permanently

More than three quarters (76.6 per cent) of respondents said they plan to live permanently in the EU or the other countries of the European Economic Area and Switzerland. In fact, 65.7 per cent said that Brexit has increased the likelihood of this choice.

For some, the decision is linked to the difficulty to bring non-British family members to the UK under new, stricter immigration rules.

“My German wife and I decided we no longer wanted to live in UK post Brexit referendum. In particular, we were affected by the impact of immigration law […] We cannot now return to UK on retirement as I cannot sponsor her on my pension. We knew it was a one-way journey. Fortunately, I could revive an application for German citizenship,” was a testimony.

“My husband is a US citizen and getting him a visa for the UK was near impossible due to my low income as a freelance journalist. We realized under EU law, moving to an EU country was easier. We settled on Austria as we had both lived there before… we could speak some German, and we like the mountains,” said another respondent.

Professor Bueltmann noted that the loss of free movement rights in the EU could be a factor too in the decision of many to stay where they are.

Citizenship and representation

Among those who decided to stay, 38.2 per cent are either applying or planning to apply for a citizenship and 28.6 per cent are thinking about it.

A key finding of the research, Bueltmann said, is that the vast majority of British citizens do not feel politically represented. Some 60 per cent of respondents said they feel unrepresented and another 30 per cent not well represented.

Another issue is that less than half (47.5 per cent) trust the government of their country of residence, while a larger proportion (62 per cent) trust the European Union. Almost all (95.6 per cent) said they do not trust the UK government.

Feeling European

The survey highlights the Brexit impacts on people’s identity too. 82.6 per cent of respondents said they see themselves as European, a higher proportion than those identifying as British (68.9 per cent).

“Brexit has really left me unsure of what my identity is. I don’t feel British, and I certainly don’t identify with the mindset of a lot of British people who live there. Yet, I am not Danish either. So, I don’t really know anymore!” said one of the participants in the survey.

Professor Bueltmann said the survey “demonstrates that Brexit impacts continue to evolve: this didn’t just stop because the transition period was over or a deadline for an application had been reached. Consequently, Brexit continues to shape the lives and experiences of British citizens in the EU/EEA and Switzerland in substantial, sometimes life-altering, ways.”

Considering the results of the study, Professor Bueltmann recommends policy makers in the EU and the UK to address the issue of lack of representation, for instance creating a joint UK-EU citizens’ stakeholder forum.

The report also recommends the UK government to rebuild trust with British citizens in the EU introducing voting rights for life and changing immigration rules to allow British-European families to return more easily. 

This article was prepared in cooperation with Europe Street News.

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