What will happen to British EU diplomats after Brexit?

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By Alice Tidey
EU diplomatic staff with UK nationality recalled by September 2019
EU diplomatic staff with UK nationality recalled by September 2019   -   Copyright  Alexas_Fotos/Pixabay

British passport holders working in EU embassies will be recalled by September 2019 at the latest, an EU Commission letter has stated, but assuring them that few will lose their jobs.

The letter was co-signed on July 27 by the EU Commission Secretary General Martin Selmayr and Helga Maria Schmid, Secretary General of the EU External Action Service (EEAS).

It states that senior staff, including ambassadors who represent the EU and who have British nationality only, must return to headquarters by March 29, 2019 — the day Britain formally leaves the EU.

Other, less senior British officials will have to report back to headquarters in Brussels by September 2019 when the 28-country bloc's diplomatic staff is scheduled to rotate.

Selmayr and Schmid assured British diplomatic workers that they intended to "apply a generous and transparent use of the exceptions provided by Article 47 of the Conditions of Employment of Other Servants" which determines the rules around termination of employment for EU employees.

However, they warned, in "specific cases, such as conflict of interest or because of international obligations," some British staff may be forced to resign.

British temporary and contract agents will no longer be recruited and serve in EU delegations past March 30, 2019, although some will continue to be employed depending on their contracts and responsibilities.

Contract staff for instance may serve in a Delegation as a local agent but "they should not be entrusted with the fulfillment of diplomatic functions," the letter dictates.

Selmayr and Schmid wrote that they were "fully aware that the decision of the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union has created a lot of uncertainty and anxiety" for British EU diplomatic staff.

At the end of 2016, the EEAS employed a total of 4,237 staff members in Brussels, and in the 139 EU Delegations around the world. Brits made up 7% of top staff, according to an EEAS report.