So, the comforting ideals expressed in ex-President Juncker’s post-Brexit-referendum message to staff appear to have been no more than kind words, something we suggested might be the case in our previous article Were British Hats really left at the door?
The CJEU has read and applied the Staff Regulations with no special consideration for any ‘European spirit’ and agrees with the Commission that this re-evaluation of entitlements has always been clear to staff, an outcome which is more than a little disconcerting, given that ex-President Juncker himself encouraged affected Brussels-based staff to acquire Belgian nationality.
The information offered on the dedicated Commission UK Staff website is not particularly user friendly (there is no suggestion there of first checking out what might happen (before taking things any further) with your particular circumstances (e.g. ask the PMO via staff matters) in order to make an informed choice) and the rumours in the corridor are that everyone on acquiring the nationality of the place where they work will lose entitlements, which is also not quite true. Brussels Local Staff Committee also produced some Brussels-specific guidance. Case T18/19 gives some concrete figures: 52 CJEU staff who became Luxembourgish continue to receive the expatriation allowance and of 23 Court of Auditors staff, 20 also continue to receive it (paragraph 95).
Here’s our rough take on Article 4(1)(b) of Annex VII to the Staff Regulations
So to sum up Case T‑18/19: yes, Brexit is a big mess, but it’s not of the EU’s making and the repercussions affect us all (albeit somewhat unevenly), at the very least you have conserved your post (and it must be noted here that many of our non-permanent colleagues have not received the same assurance). So, while this outcome was not unexpected, it is disappointing: the kind words in the June 2016 message to staff raised many hopes.
One last thing: urban legend debunked!
Reordering your nationalities in Sysper2 will not change your entitlements!
This piece of ‘advice’ has been doing the rounds for a while now, and instructions on how to change the order are available on the dedicated Commission UK Staff website without specifically stating what would be gained by doing so. So, we have clarity: putting UK as nationality 2 will not avoid/reverse the loss of the expatriation/foreign-residence allowance (Case T‑18/19, paragraph 119), but it was worth a try!
As always, if you have questions or comments, feel free to contact us.