Consequences of BREXIT for Belgium and Wallonia

At the end of the Article 50 extension period, not only will the United Kingdom leave the European Union but also the Single Market and the Customs Union. Depending on the terms of the withdrawal, consequences with varying degrees of severity are anticipated.

In the event of a deal

Following the United Kingdom's notification of its intention to leave the EU, negotiations were opened between the two parties with a view to reaching a deal, allowing the smoothest possible exit for the United Kingdom. This was validated on 25 November 2018 by the European Council.

This draft withdrawal agreement is designed to manage the consequences of Brexit, including:

  • the rights of citizens
  • the Irish border
  • the financial settlement
  • governance
  • the transition period

The terms of the future relationship between the EU and the United Kingdom have been validated separately from the withdrawal agreement, and have been the subject of a joint political declaration, which sets out the basis for the future partnership between the two parties.

The measures provided for in these texts only apply if the British Parliament agrees.

In the event of a no-deal

The Council of Ministers approved a draft bill at second reading on 8 February 2019 aimed at addressing the possible withdrawal of the United Kingdom without a deal with the European Union. It would only enter into force in the event of a no-deal. The draft bill is intended to provide a temporary solution to the main difficulties posed by Brexit in federal matters:

  • Asylum and Migration: the right of residence for British nationals and their family members
  • Energy: security of gas supply by Interconnector (UK) Limited
  • Employment: first jobs obligation for young workers of foreign origin under 26 years of age
  • Social affairs: consequences of Brexit on the various branches of social security
  • Finance: amendment of the law on the provision of investment services and the status and supervision of portfolio management companies and investment advisers
  • Economy: new rules on the activities and supervision of insurance intermediaries performing the activities of "authorised underwriter"

At the technical and administrative level, a range of measures are being prepared by the competent ministers and their administrations. It is planned to strengthen the customs authority and the Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain (FASFC) as well as other administrations including the FPS Foreign Affairs, the Federal Police, etc.

At the same time, the European Commission has implemented an emergency action plan in certain sectors. Of these measures, 14 relate to sectors where a no-deal would be a major source of disruption for the public and businesses. These include financial services, air transport, customs and climate policy. These measures only apply to limited areas where it is essential to safeguard the vital interests of the EU and where preparatory measures alone are not sufficient. In principle, they will be temporary in nature, have a limited scope and will be adopted unilaterally by the EU.

Wallonia is preparing its services for the consequences of a no-deal

At the end of October 2018, the Walloon Government decided to set up a working group to prepare all Walloon services for the consequences of a no-deal, from a regulatory, administrative, organisational and budgetary perspective.

The Walloon Government then requested the services of the Wallonia Public Service to formulate recommendations (administrative, legislative, organisational (including human resources, budget, etc.).

In the event of a no-deal, it will be a question of measuring the impacts on the 2019 and 2020 budgets, in the current multiannual financial framework (2014-2020). The envisaged resources, particularly in terms of payments, would no longer be guaranteed to ensure the realisation of all the components of the current framework, with the risk of destabilising the current policies benefiting citizens, SMEs, Walloon operators and farmers under the Common Agricultural Policy, programmes such as COSME, Horizon 2020, the European Globalisation Adjustment Fund and programmes co-financed by the ERDF (including Interreg) and the ESF. Moreover, the United Kingdom's failure to meet its financial commitments for 2019 and 2020 could jeopardise the viability and successful completion of certain LEADER cooperation projects involving Walloon and British operators.

Below is the decree adopted in plenary session of the Parliament of Wallonia on 3 April 2019 :

  • Decree on temporary measures following the withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without a deal. This decree sets out temporary measures that will be necessary if the United Kingdom leaves the European Union without a deal. In this case, the United Kingdom would become a "third country" and the British citizens concerned would be affected from one day to the next by a change in the system applicable to them under the various Walloon regulations. In certain cases, this could be a problem, not only for British citizens, but also for Walloon companies and citizens. For this reason, the Government proposes establishing a temporary system, based on reciprocity and in line with the transitional measures agreed at European level, by neighbouring countries and by the federal government and other federated entities.

Warning: The contents may be modified regularly depending on the negotiations.

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