British Ambassador: New situation requires adjustment

Turner: Christmas agreement on future relationships “reason to be happy” – students from the EU “very welcome” even after the Erasmus farewell

The fact that delivery problems between Great Britain and the EU have been reported in some areas since the end of the Brexit transition phase does not come as a surprise to the British Ambassador in Vienna, Leigh Turner. “Great Britain has not been in the EU since January 31, 2020 and left the internal market and the customs union on December 31,” which means that “there are other systems, many people have to prepare for the new regulations” .

It is of course “a new situation and we will have to adapt, but I believe that in the long term UK-EU relations and UK-Austria relations will develop, and a deep and broad relationship in trade and other areas.” will be profitable for both sides, “said the diplomat in an interview with the APA. “I think it’s perfectly normal that there has to be a switch in many areas, but the fact is we got a good deal which makes trading a lot easier than it would otherwise have been.”

The fact that a post-Brexit agreement was finally reached at Christmas, “an agreement that is good and acceptable for both sides, is really a reason to be pleased,” said Turner. The agreement allows trade between Great Britain and the EU without tariffs and quantity restrictions, but is also “a basis for further cooperation” in other areas.

When it comes to internal security, for example, “a great deal of cooperation” will also be possible in the future. “The European arrest warrant can no longer exist because it is controlled by the European Court of Justice, and for Great Britain it is a red line. There can be no role for the European Court of Justice in the British system after Brexit,” said Turner. But in many areas the cooperation could still continue.

“If we look at the terrible terrorist attack in Vienna on November 2nd, we see that Great Britain offered its help on the same evening and that there was an exchange of information about this terrorist attack with the British authorities.” Great Britain was and remains ready to continue to contribute its knowledge and experience in the field of counter-terrorism and the fight against organized crime. “It will of course not be based on the EU, as it was before, but we hope that this agreement, which also regulates cooperation in matters of internal security relatively deeply, will be a basis for good cooperation.”

Regarding the British decision to no longer participate in the Erasmus exchange program, which was criticized by many, the ambassador stated that his country was “open” and that students from the EU were still “very welcome”. “In the UK, about 21 percent of all students are from abroad.” In 2018/19 there were around 485,000 foreign students, “including around 143,000 from the EU. But we also had 120,000 from China and a great many from India, the USA, Hong Kong and Malaysia.”

Great Britain has “a great interest in British students continuing to travel abroad,” and has introduced the new “Turing Program” to help 35,000 students go abroad, “including the EU,” said Turner . “We support our students to come to the EU, the EU is very happy to support its students to come to the UK.”

Brexit also means new residence and registration requirements for EU citizens in the UK and for Brits in the European Union. In Great Britain, it has been possible to register under the “EU Settlement Scheme” since March 2019 and until the end of June 2021 if you were resident there before the end of the transition phase. For Brits living in Austria, there is a new residence title “Article 50 EUV”, which can be applied for since January 1st. According to the British embassy, ​​the competent authority in Vienna, MA35, has already received around 500 applications, which corresponds to around ten percent of the British living in the capital.

“It is very important to us that the approximately 11,000 British people who live in Austria can make this registration as smooth as possible, and I am delighted that Austria has decided to extend the registration period from six months to twelve months . That means that the British who live here in Austria now have until December 31st to complete the registration, “said Turner.

In Great Britain, of the 4.5 million EU citizens who have applied, more than 4.2 million have already been granted the right of residence. “I think that’s also a very positive symbol of the deeper UK-EU relationship that there are so many EU citizens who want to continue living in the UK.”

The residence title “Article 50 TEU” is initially valid for five years – unless the person concerned has already acquired a right of permanent residence, in which case it is ten years. But just like EU citizens in Great Britain, as a British citizen in Austria, in accordance with the exit agreement, you have “the right to stay here forever,” emphasized the ambassador. “You get a card for five or ten years, but the right is forever for those who are already here.”

Turner said he hoped the new registration system would work well. If there are difficulties, the embassy is also available for support. For him, one thing is particularly important: “In Great Britain, the attitude is that you are looking for reasons to allow this ‘right to remain’, not reasons not to allow it. That is why the percentage of people in Great Britain who are in the Applications are unsuccessful, extremely low, and I hope that this will also be the case in Austria, that people are looking for reasons to allow them. “

Representatives of all levels of Austrian politics had assured him: “The 11,000 British are welcome in Austria, we want them to stay. Just as the British say we want these EU citizens to stay with us. The program in Great Britain is very great went well, and I hope that the program will go just as well in Austria and that by the end of December all 11,000 people will have applied and received their right of residence here in Austria. “

(Interview conducted by Alexandra Angell / APA)

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