British officials of the European Union (EU) face a period of job uncertainty following the Brexit victory on Friday at the referendum on Britain’s separation from the EU. Their fate will not be decided until the withdrawal agreement between Britain and the EU is negotiated. A renewable period of two years has been set aside for the negotiations on the withdrawal process, which will decide on a new status for Britain. In the meantime, “nothing changes, the country keeps its commissioners and its members of parliament”, Vincent Dujardin, president of the Institute of European Studies at the Catholic University of Louvain, explained.
In the short term, British European officials will certainly change jobs, according to Benjamin Leruth, a University of Kent (UK) researcher who specializes in the study of European Integration. He noted that they virtually lost their jobs with the Brexit victory but, depending on the agreement negotiated, posts will perhaps be created to maintain the links between the United Kingdom and the EU.
Mario Telo of the Institute of European Studies at the Free University of Brussels was more optimistic. “The officials have a contractual agreement with the EU, which therefore has to honour it, so they will remain until they retire,” he said. One of the conditions for being a European official is that you must be a national of an EU member country but, Telo explained, that condition applies to new applicants, not to existing contracts.
The 73 European members of parliament, the European Commissioner and the 1,164 staff members of the commission are nevertheless in the dark on the future of their jobs and will therefore need to follow the negotiation process attentively.