Ixelles council to debate call for unilateral guarantees for its British residents in event of a no deal Brexit

Ixelles Council Chamber
Ixelles Council Chamber

Councillor Betrand Wert (left) and Roger Casale, New Europeans, in Brussels
Councillor Betrand Wert (left) and Roger Casale, New Europeans, in Brussels

Following representations by New Europeans, the Ecolo-Groen Ixelles group has tabled a draft motion to guarantee the rights of British citizens living in Belgium in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Ixelles Council to debate call for unilateral guarantees for its British residents in the event of a no deal Brexit, Brussels Express, 24 Jan. 2019


The motion will be debated at a full Council meeting in Ixelles on Thursday, 24 January.

The representations were made in a letter to Councillor Bertrand Wert from New Europeans. an award-winning pro-European civil rights organistion  based in Ixelles.

In the letter, Roger Casale, Secretary General of New Europeans said:

"We respectfully call on the Ixelles council, our local authority, to petition the Belgian government, and ask that the rights of UK citizens in Belgium be guaranteed unilaterally in the event of a no deal Brexit.

British citizens in the EU are EU citizens and they should not be left to fight for their rights alone.

We have come together in Europe for the better and the worse and now is a time for EU citizens and those who represent us to stand together."

Read the full text of the letter here

Ixelles has over 1,500 British residents, the largest community of British citizens (who are still also EU citizens) in the Brussels Region.  

As Councillor Betrand Wert set out after tabling the motion:

 " I have tabled a motion on behalf of the Ecolo Ixelles and Groen Elsene groups calling on the Belgian federal government to guarantee the rights of British citizens living in Belgium at the same level as before they left the EU, in the event of UK leaving the European Union without a deal."

New Europeans took this action following announcements by the Dutch and Luxembourg governments that they would unilaterally guarantee the rights of British residents in the event of a no deal Brexit.

Although the Belgian government has expressed its intent to support British citizens post Brexit, no specifc actions have yet been proposed to gurantee all their current rights should the UK leave the EU without a deal.

Edward Robinison is a British resident in Ixelles and gave this testimony ahead of the Council meeting

Watch Edward's testimony here

Speaking about why New Europeans has taken this action, Roger Casale said:

​"The key point we want to make of course is that what happens to Britons in Ixelles post Brexit is not just a matter to be discussed between Theresa May and Michel Barnier .

It also needs to be the subject of a conversation between the Mayor of Ixelles and the PM of Belgium .

Why? Because Britons in Ixelles are EU citizens and therefore the Mayor's constituents

Both the Mayor and the EU institutions (including the Council of Ministers) have a direct responsibility to safeguard rights."


To give your tesitmony if you are a Briton in Ixelles, contact:


To find out more about the Ixelles campaign, click below:

Ixelles' council campaigning to protect the post-Brexit rights of Britains in the area

Full text of the Ixelles Council motion to be debated on 24 January

Considering that the rejection of the proposed agreement by the British Parliament further reinforces the uncertainty faced by British citizens living in Belgium, the Brussels Region and our municipality of Ixelles,

Considering that in the event of leaving the European Union without an agreement from the European Union, British citizens living in Belgium will lose their European citizenship, and will in fact lose all the rights that go with it, such as: end of the right of residence, end of access to the health system with the termination of the European health insurance card, end of the coordination of social security contributions and reciprocity, end of pension transfer,

Considering that 25,000 British citizens live in Belgium, including 1,500 in Ixelles, which makes our municipality home to the largest number of British citizens in the Brussels region,

Considering that in November 2018, Prime Minister Theresa May announced that in the event of a Brexit without agreement, European Union citizens residing in the United Kingdom would receive a status equivalent to that which they currently enjoy,

Considering that in the event of a Brexit without an agreement, British citizens will have to rely on the Member States to guarantee their rights, and that even in the event of an agreement, British EU citizens will lose their right to free movement, so those travelling for work or study could face difficulties similar to those of other non-EU third-country nationals, or even worse due to the absence of an agreement on travel between the United Kingdom and Schengen and movement within the Schengen area,

Considering that the European Commission has urged EU governments to be "generous" in their support to the British if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without an agreement,

Considering that the Dutch government has indicated that British nationals living in the Netherlands before 29 March 2019 will retain existing rights to live, work and study in the Netherlands if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without an agreement; to this end, the British would receive a letter inviting them to apply for a residence permit in the amount of 57 euros
Considering that the Luxembourg Government has made it clear that it wants to facilitate the stay of British citizens if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without an agreement,

Considering that Italy and Germany have also confirmed that British citizens will be allowed to stay even if the United Kingdom leaves the EU without an agreement,

Considering that it is above all a case of European solidarity, and support between European peoples, to ensure that British residents can retain their equal rights, no more and no less, in the event of leaving without the agreement of the European Union,

Considering that the Federal Government approved on 18 January at first reading the preliminary draft law anticipating the consequences of Brexit, that it is working on a series of technical measures to preserve the legal security of British citizens (residence, social and family rights) and companies in Belgium within the framework of a reciprocity agreement for Belgians in the United Kingdom, and that a consultation committee bringing together the Federal Government and the governments of the federal entities should be set up,

We call on the Belgian federal government, but also on the Regions and municipalities, to ensure that, pending a bilateral agreement between the Kingdom of Belgium and the United Kingdom, the rights of British citizens in Belgium are unilaterally guaranteed in the event of non-acceptance of the European Union's exit plan by the United Kingdom


About Ixelles Council

Ixelles has always been European. It houses some of the European institutions and more than a third of its citizens are non-Belgian Europeans. More than 80.000 people living in Ixelles today. Amongst them 31.350 are Europeans:

11,067 French

4,153 Italians

2,516 Spanish

1,929 Portuguese

1,781 Germans

1,577 Poles

1,500 Britons

The commune is home to more than 175 different nationalities and the newcomers are mostly Europeans. The local authorities are, by their mere role, close to the citizens.

In 2018, the commune of Ixelles received the Council fo Europe's Plaquette d’honneur of the Europe Prize

Read more here


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