Belgian Brexit Contingency Measures Brexit Act

10 Apr 2019

Today, the Act of 3 April 2019 on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union (the “Brexit Act”) was published in the Belgian State Gazette. In doing so, Belgium is responding to Europe’s call to work on preparatory measures for a no-deal Brexit.

The aspects of the Brexit Act that might potentially influence HR, in particular (business) immigration and social security, are briefly discussed below.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the Brexit Act provides for a number of measures relating to the residence of UK nationals and their family members on the Belgian territory post-Brexit during a transitional period up to and including 31 December 2020.

UK nationals and family members with an electronic E (+) card or F (+) card pre-Brexit retain their right to reside on the Belgian territory and can have their residence document extended until
31 December 2020;

Applications for an electronic E (+) card or F (+) card from UK nationals and their family members that were submitted pre-Brexit will be processed according to the conditions that applied pre-Brexit;

Family members will be able to join UK nationals residing in Belgium in accordance with the conditions applicable pre-Brexit.

Royal Decrees are also in the pipeline. These Decrees will enable these persons to continue carrying out their work during this transitional period.

In addition, the regional legislative authorities have simultaneously taken a number of initiatives to implement transitional measures until 31 December 2020 enabling UK nationals who do not have a right to reside in Belgium to temporarily carry out work (exempt from a work permit for a maximum of 90 days).

The Brexit Act also provides for a number of measures relating to the coordination of the social security systems post-Brexit.

The Belgian legislator has opted to continue to apply Regulation 883/2004 (i.e. the current European regulatory instrument) and Regulation 1408/71 (for third-country nationals) between Belgium and the United Kingdom up to and including 31 December 2020.

However, the Brexit Act stipulates that the application of the above transitional measures could be amended or even terminated prematurely by Royal Decree.

The entry into force of these Brexit Contingency Measures has yet to be determined by Royal Decree (i.e. Brexit).

> Action point

In the event of a no-deal, the Brexit Act creates a transitional period until 31 December 2020 and largely ensures the preservation of the status quo for UK nationals and their family members already residing in Belgium, as well as in the context of social security. It is therefore in the interests of British nationals and their family members to apply for a valid electronic E(+) or F(+) card as soon as possible.