Amsterdam’s plan for their British Amsterdammers

Did you know that Amsterdam, dear sweet little Amsterdam that is my home, has been busy putting together a plan? It describes how they intend to secure the rights of the 16,000 British citizens currently living in Amsterdam. Maybe like me, this very sensible and pragmatic approach failed to poke its head above the stormy Brexit clouds that dominate the media coverage. Well they do, they have a plan in the form of a set of recommendations, and it goes a little something like this…

“The City of Amsterdam will do its best to ensure that British citizens, as far as possible, keep the same residency rights that they held before Brexit, after the Brexit process is completed”

Amsterdam Mayor reaches out to the community

On the 18th the Mayor Eberhard van der Laan met with members of the British Community to discuss their concerns about the effects of Brexit. In an open letter to British Amsterdammers published a week later, he explains the meeting was held to demonstrate the city’s understanding of the concerns, and their accountability. I’ve lived in Amsterdam 6 years, I feel more Amsterdammer than Brits.  Yet still I’m amazed how open and welcoming it continues to be.  (You can read the open letter at the end of this post.)

The Amsterdam plan

Two weeks later the University of Amsterdam (UvA) published the results of a 6mth research project. The goal is pretty simple. To identify what the city can do to ensure British residents of Amsterdam can continue living in the city after Brexit. And in addition, to preserve Amsterdam as an attractive centre of study for British students. Let me break this down for you.

What the report reports

It identifies two sets of actions: (i) things the city can do to help and support the negotiations of citizens rights and (ii) things the city can do in the event that the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU fall flat as a pancake. There are 35 recommendations split over three levels of the government; the EU, the Dutch Government and the city of Amsterdam.

Some of the actions it recommends

Ranging from advocating at an EU level that the freedom of movement for students should be preserved. To lobbying the Dutch government to create specific laws to guarantee the rights of British citizens in transition periods. The report identifies a number of general precautions to be taken when creating new policies such as not creating unintentional limitations on the grants available to British researchers.   At a local level, the recommendations focus on keeping British citizens fully informed of their rights and possibilities for securing residency. And of whatever mechanisms the Dutch government can put in place to make the whole thing a tiny bit easier on us. Such as supporting the learning of Dutch in order to pass the civic integration exam.

Why is this report important?

Because it shows a serious and well-considered approach to Brexit from a capital city within the EU27. It shows a city that values its citizens. And it shows the British Amsterdammers that there is at least one sensible voice speaking out for us.

Has your city or country issued a plan for guaranteeing citizens rights post Brexit? We’d love to hear about it.

Letter from Mayor July 2017

Also published on Medium.