Andrew Dalgleish talks about the unwanted yet still possible No Deal outcome, what this means for Croats in the UK, what it could mean for Brits in Croatia, and how, if at all, Brexit will affect Croatia’s tourist industry.
While many British citizens in Croatia remain worried for their future in the country, rest assured that we at TCN, along with the British Embassy in Zagreb, will continue to do our absolute best to keep you informed of any changes, should they occur at all, to your rights to residence, access to healthcare, the labour market, and your access to Croatia’s social security system.
We have already written numerous articles on what Brexit is likely to mean when it comes to British citizens living in Croatia with regulated status (biometric residence permit of either temporary (privremeni) or permanent (stalni) residence (boravak), which was your right to claim as EU citizens. I’d like to preface this by saying that there is no need to do anything but remain calm despite the sheer lack of information provided to you, we’re fully aware of your concerns and will seek to assure you as best as we can along the way.
MUP has assured TCN in private correspondence with me that British citizens, even in the unwanted event of a No Deal Brexit, who have a valid residence permit of some kind, will not be seen as illegal persons living on the territory of the Republic of Croatia on the 29th of March this year. Please click here for the full article on that, as well as ways to safeguard and prepare, here for MUP’s statement to Balkan Insight, and here for Paul Bradbury’s meeting with Andrew Dalgleish, the UK Ambassador to Croatia, which took place a few weeks ago. Should the UK leave with May’s deal on the UK’s Withdrawal Agreement, click here to find out what that means for you.
Although the following article doesn’t talk quite enough about the rightful worries and fears of Croatia’s resident Brits, the number of which is well under 1,000, Andrew Dalgleish sits down to discuss what a potential No Deal Brexit might mean should it occur, and sought to reassure that British tourists, who are among the most numerous European visitors to Croatia, will continue to come.
As Mark Thomas/Slobodna Dalmacija writes on the 19th of February, 2019, before Britain’s (planned) exit from the European Union scheduled for March the 29th this year, we talked with UK Ambassador to the Republic of Croatia, Mr. Andrew Dalgleish, to find out what the future of the always positive relations between Croatia and the UK are set to become.
“Croatian citizens living in the UK shouldn’t worry if Britain leaves the European Union without agreement because the [British] Government has taken all the measures to protect [EU] citizens [living in the UK at the time of exit],” the ambassador stated.
The British Government ”is making a huge effort to reach an agreement”, and the outcome of Brexit for Great Britain has two scenarios, at least in this phase of negotiations; the UK leaving the EU, should it continue to stand by its current position, either with or without agreement. Whatever the solution turns out to be, it will bring new questions, as well as new solutions, in terms of citizens’ rights.
If Britain leaves the European Union on March the 29th, how will it affect the status of Croatian nationals living in the UK in the case of a No Deal Brexit?
Since the beginning of the negotiations around Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May has been very clear on this issue: Citizens should not be bargaining chips, the lives of people and their needs are what is really important here. Then, when we came to the end of the negotiations, the prime minister said that regardless of what would happen [regarding the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc], Croats and other citizens of European Union countries (EU27) who are legal residents of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland will basically hold the same status and enjoy broadly the same rights as they did before the 29th of March, 2019.
Croats should not immediately see any change in their current status in the UK. This is a real indicator of how much Britain truly does appreciate the citizens of other European Union countries living in the UK. No matter what other EU members do in return, the prime minister has been very clear on this matter.
After March the 29th, EU citizens will be able to live normally in the UK, enjoying continued unimpeded access to all the social, health and education services just as they have until now, and the direction further negotiations will take is yet to be seen. There will be procedures to explain to citizens what the futre will look like after Brexit and we want to let them know that we do care about everyone.
At this point there are two possible Brexit scenarios, “Brexit with an agreement” and “Brexit without an agreement”, and whatever option is accepted will affect what will happen on March the 29th…
Yes, the British Government is absolutely devoted, with all of its efforts, to reach an agreement. How exactly this arrangement will look remains to be seen. However, it is crystal clear to the government that reaching an agreement is the best way to leave [the EU].
Also, we as the government are highly responsible, which means that we have to prepare for this second scenario [No Deal Brexit] that we wouldn’t want, but which could happen. That’s why we want to reassure Croatian citizens living in the UK that they don’t have to worry if Britain does leave without a deal, because the [British] Government has taken measures to reassure them that they do care about them.
Agreement or not, how will Brexit affect your role as [UK] Ambassador?
Of course, it’s already influenced my ambassador’s role. I was all set to be the ambassador before the referendum was actually held, I actually arrived in Zagreb three weeks after the referendum. Of course, that means all my preparations changed overnight. But Brexit is real and we’ve got to face it.
Relations between Great Britain and Croatia have lasted longer outside the European Union than they have within it. Brexit will certainly be a challenge because many of the questions related to our two peoples are being solved at a table in Brussels.
Since we [Britain] will not be sitting at the table in Brussels again, we will make even more of an effort in the future to get London and Zagreb to directly negotiate, more than we did before, so there’s a chance there.
How are the negotiations with the Croatian Government progressing, if an agreement [between the UK and the EU] is not reached, and what about the rights of British nationals in Croatia?
Prime Minister May was very clear at the very beginning of negotiations that the [British] Government would take care of the rights of European Union citizens in the UK after March the 29th, so we hope that other [EU] Member States will act in the same way.
The European Commission has stated that it hopes that, after Brexit, all EU member states will be ”generous” and offer British citizens good conditions, however, each of them will do so in their own way. Discussions are being conducted not only with Croatia, but with other EU member states. Of course, the Croatian Government, as well as the British Government, is hoping for a scenario in which the UK withdraws from the EU with a deal.
It’s very important to point out that in the case of a No Deal Brexit, there are many technical questions that require answers, some of which are what it will mean to be a legal citizen (resident) here, to gaining the right to health care, and many other issues.
All of this requires very demanding preparation and this is what we’re doing at this moment with the Croatian Government.
Do you think Croatian tourism will suffer a sort of shock after Brexit?
“There is no intent on either side of causing problems in people’s lives, going on holiday is a natural thing that people need. No government in these negotiations has said that obstacles should be put in place in order to make things for the tourist industry more difficult in the future. Of course, if there’s an agreement, then every side and every country knows where their place is.
In the event of a No Deal Brexit, we must take care to resolve all of the technical issues and that the British [continue to] come to Croatia on holiday, which is the intention of both Croatia and the UK. I don’t see the probability of any problem, as long as we’re all doing our jobs in the meantime.
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