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Message from the British Ambassador to British Citizens living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

The new British Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein, Jane Owen, sends a message to British Nationals in the two countries regarding citizens’ rights in light of exiting the EU.

Ambassador Jane Owen

Message from the British Ambassador to British Citizens living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein

First of all I wanted to introduce myself as the new British Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein. I took up my position on 18 December, and look forward to working to build on the strong and successful relationship between the United Kingdom and Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which a great many of you have been instrumental in creating and growing over the years.

I know that many of you have been asking how your present and future lives in Switzerland and Liechtenstein might be impacted by the UK’s decision to leave the EU, following the referendum last year, so I wanted to update you on our Government’s position regarding citizens’ rights.

You will no doubt have seen that the European Council confirmed last Friday that we have made good progress on the arrangements for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU, which allows discussions to enter the next phase. You can read the joint progress report here, the Prime Minister’s statement to the House of Commons here, and the European Council’s guidelines here.

Included in the progress so far has been agreement on continuing protection of the rights of UK and EU citizens and their families upon the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. The discussions so far have focused in particular on citizens who are already resident in another EU country (arrangements for those who plan to travel in the future will be discussed separately). You can read the Prime Minister’s open letter on this subject here. This sets out our plans to ensure that all citizens affected can carry on their lives broadly as before.

The agreement reached last week applies specifically to EU member states, but the Prime Minister has made clear our Government’s intention to agree similar arrangements for Swiss and Liechtenstein citizens living in the UK, as well as for all British citizens and their families already living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, on a reciprocal basis. It is our intention that these arrangements should be put in place as soon as possible and before the UK leaves the EU in order to provide certainty, and the Prime Minister has said that we will continue discussing arrangements with the Governments of both Switzerland and Liechtenstein to this end. Initial scoping discussions over recent months with both Switzerland and the EEA countries including Liechtenstein have been very constructive.

I believe that the progress we have made in discussion with the EU negotiators will form a helpful building block towards our final agreement, establishing a deep and special partnership between the UK and the EU for the future – an agreement that allows for strong trade and the closest cooperation on the issues that matter. Citizens’ rights is a subject that will remain a high priority in that context.

I am keen to hear your views and feedback on the progress to date and plan to hold discussions with representative groups of British citizens living in Switzerland and Liechtenstein in the first part of next year, so please watch this space and email info.berne@fco.gov.uk if you would like to be involved in that.

In the meantime, I wish you all a very happy Christmas, and hope that we will have the chance to meet in the New Year.

Yours,

Jane Owen

HM Ambassador to Switzerland and Liechtenstein

Published 21 December 2017