The British Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Jane Owen, sends a message to UK nationals in the two countries regarding the UK’s departure from the EU
Following the decision by the European Council to extend the date the UK will leave the EU to 31 October 2019, I wanted to give you some further information on your citizens’ rights here in Switzerland and Liechtenstein. The UK and Switzerland are closely connected, with around 40,000 UK nationals living in Switzerland and 2,600 British frontier workers. The movement of people and business is also significant, with 150 flights between our countries every day enabling this.
We appreciate that the UK’s departure from the EU may affect the lives of UK nationals resident in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, or those planning to move here after free movement ceases to apply, but I would like to reassure you that your rights as residents in Switzerland and Liechtenstein are protected in any Brexit scenario.
For now, nothing changes. The UK will remain a member of the EU until 31 October, unless the Withdrawal Agreement is passed by Parliament before then, in which case we will leave on the first day of the calendar month following that decision. We retain all of our rights and obligations as an EU member state during this time.
The Prime Minister is clear that we must work to achieve an orderly departure from the EU, through the Withdrawal Agreement. This includes an “implementation period” which would run from exit day until 31 December 2020, during which nothing would change. This is designed to give citizens and businesses some time to adapt.
We are grateful to the Swiss Government for successful conclusion of five bilateral “continuity agreements”. These are ready to come into force when the UK leaves the EU, i.e. at the end of the implementation period after the Withdrawal Agreement has been approved, or on exit day in the very unlikely scenario that the UK were to leave without a deal in place. Most importantly for you, our Citizens’ Rights agreement with Switzerland will protect the rights of UK and Swiss nationals who have chosen to call each other’s countries home. This agreement will ensure you can continue to live your lives much as you do at present.
Please stay in touch and continue to share your thoughts with us at the Embassy; we are here to support you.
HM Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein