Will the British be kicked out of EU institutions?

Brexit, Special Report

What will become of the 1,000 British civil servants in the European institutions? This will be one of the (many) points to to be decided during negotiations.

There are exactly 1,126 of them. A little over a thousand Britons to be active in the European institutions. What will become of them? At first glance, their from the outset, as soon as the country actually leaves the European Union – expected in two years’ time at the very least – seems the most logical outcome. Except that the European Union cannot to detach from it so easily. If only for linguistic reasons. English will continue to be one of the official languages of the European Union (where Ireland remains a member) and mother-tongue translators will be needed. English to cope with the volume of legislative documents and communications produced each year by the institutions. But there are only 137 British translators. What to do with the other 989 civil servants?

For the Commission, their status protects them from a Brexit. “You have left your national hats at the door when you entered this institution. Today, this door does not close on you”, said in a internal message to all Jean-Claude Juncker officials. An argument questionable when you consider the often strong relationship between civil servants and the British in London.

In the corridors, legal arguments are also put forward to defend the retention of civil servants. “There is no legal rule that says when a country leaves the EU, civil servants have to leave too,” argues an EU source. And it’s true: “In principle, they entered the EU as part of a Member State by competition, they can only leave by express decision of the European institutions,” explains Félix Géradon, deputy secretary-general of Union Syndicale, one of the European civil service unions. For the time being, however, Jean-Claude Juncker, like Martin Schulz and the management of the Council of the European Union, have expressed their desire to keep their civil servants and will make their voices heard. this issue in the negotiations. But does this mean that all the British will stay in Brussels?

The race for British posts

That would be going too fast. On the one hand because not everyone is in the same boat. Among the members of the institutions, there are also contract workers. Whatever the outcome of the negotiations, they will no longer be able to claim to have their contracts renewed. As for diplomats seconded from Westminster to EU delegations abroad, “they will not be able to claim to have their contracts renewed, regardless of the outcome of the negotiations. will no longer be able to hold their positions and will have to be replaced,” the union say.

On the other hand, because the issue is sensitive. The institutions know this. Especially when it comes to the high-powered and well-paid positions of administrators for which the other member countries could ask for a redistribution of the positions for their benefit. Of the 1,126 British civil servants in the EU institutions, more than half (674) of the members of the Commission are directors. In their capacity as In comparison, there are 1,331 French administrators (out of the 3,058 French civil servants in the institution). MEPs could open the breach as early as Tuesday by formally requesting in a written resolution the change of portfolio of the British Commissioner for External Relations and European Neighbourhood Policy. Financial markets, Jonathan Hill, according to a parliamentary source. As for the 73 British MEPs, there is no way out. They will have to leave at the end of the negotiations – which is expected to coincide, it is hoped, in the institution, with the end of their legislature. They will thus remain in the European Parliament, but with a role that is certainly diminished and deprived of voting rights. Which ones? That is still to be discussed internally.

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