‘Our relationship with Britain is becoming uncertain’: Austrian consul shares Brexit concerns with MM

The proposed charge for European Union residents wanting to stay in the UK after Brexit has been scrapped after a severe backlash.

Set at £65 for adults, the fee had to be paid by June 30 2021 in order for residents to remain after Britain leaves the EU.

The plan was scrapped by the government and anyone who had already registered will be fully reimbursed.

To focus more on how EU residents living in the UK or planning to move to the UK, MM has used the case study of Austria to investigate further.

MM spoke to Harald Loeffler, Austrian Honorary Consul based in Manchester.

He said: “The reassurance measures put in place by the government regarding citizens’ rights have been quite successful in getting the message across that, for Austrian people already living here, Brexit will not impact negatively on their ability to work or study here.

“At the moment there are specific pieces of advice from the Austrian Embassy on how to prepare for a no deal scenario.”

Ordinary Austrians have also expressed concerns about post-Brexit Britain and the uncertainly the current situation is creating.

Marie Kriegler, a Durham University student originally from the Austrian capital city Vienna, said: “I think everyone feels a bit scared about the uncertainty of what is going to happen.

“I know that my university was very welcoming and said for example that EU tuition fees will stay the same for this year.

“If the prices are changing then this would be a financial burden for many.”

Austria joined the EU in 1995 and has embraced the values and ideals of the union, as well as adopting the Euro.

And Mr Loeffler added: “The EU is considered a very positive thing in Austria, with a high approval rate.

“The issues coming out of Brexit have impacted that because for the first time it was possible to see what the impacts of a split would be.”

Miss Kriegler supported this: “People back home are shocked that the UK is harming itself and Europe. China, Russia and the USA will be pleased with this.

“In Austria, the EU stands for peace, prosperity and, importantly, no borders.”

But Mr Loeffler admitted: “Until recently, the attitude from Austrian companies towards trade with Britain was a keep calm and carry on mentality, but now there is some uncertainty in the relationship.”

The Austrian Embassy is holding an event for Austrian citizens at the Austrian Consulate in Manchester on February 5 at 6pm to discuss preparations for Britain’s potential imminent departure from the EU.

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