The UK officially left the European Union (EU) on January 31, 2020 at midnight. Since then, the Union Jack has disappeared from the gables of community buildings, British MEPs have left the seats of the European Parliament, the Commission operates with 27 commissioners and, at the Council table, 10 Downing Street is no longer represented. However, within these three institutions, everything is happening as if Brexit had not happened.
His Majesty’s subjects are still numerous there. There are 267 (3% of the workforce) in the Legislative Assembly and 79 (2.6%) in the Council (Member States). In the Commission, from which the legislative proposals emanate and which negotiates trade agreements with third countries on behalf of the 27, there are still 730 (2.4%). The United Kingdom thus continues to be the twelfth best represented country within the community executive, ahead of sixteen member states.
We have to go back to the beginning of Brexit to understand how we got to this paradoxical situation. When, on June 24, 2016, the Europeans learned that the British, consulted in a referendum the day before, had decided to leave them, the institutions rushed to reassure all these officials and contractors who had crossed the English Channel to serve the the community cause (2000 out of a total of 56,000 at that time). “You work for Europe. You left your national “hats” at the door when you joined this institution, and that door is not closing on you now “Jean-Claude Juncker, then President of the Commission, told them the same day.
Things are not so obvious. European regulations require that an official “He is hired on the condition that he is a national of one of the EU Member States” but it does not contemplate the case of departure from a Member State. “If the institutions had been separated from the British, it would have caused legal squabbles in very bad taste. We really didn’t need it in 2016 “, judge a former senior British official.
Jean-Claude Juncker has chosen social peace, especially since “The British were infiltrating human resources and putting unions in their pockets”adds a diplomat. Internally, no one was offended: among Eurocrats, we know how to show solidarity. “British officials? They are not British. They were all against Brexit “, argues former European Commissioner Pascal Lamy.
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