With less than two months to go before Article 50 expires and the UK leaves the EU, which is currently set to happen at midnight on March 29, with or without a deal, the post-Brexit status of British nationals in Slovenia remains unclear. In recent weeks the governments of France, Spain, the Netherlands and others have all offered to guarantee the rights of British nationals, if the same safeguards are applied by the UK government to their citizens in Britain. As yet, however, no such announcement has been made by the Slovenian government.
We got in touch with the British Embassy on Friday, January 11, to ask if there were any ongoing discussions on this issue. The office replied later that day, but the response offered little comfort to those, like your correspondent, who are British nationals. We were directed to the call on Twitter by Robin Walker MP, Minister at the Department for Exiting the EU, for member states to set out their plans for reciprocal arrangements on Britons in the EU, and EU nationals in Britain, as seen below.
Minister @WalkerWorcester sets out the #UK's guarantees for #EU citizens in all scenarios, welcomes similar commitments from member states and calls for the remaining #EU countries to set out their plans to protect citizens. pic.twitter.com/XYXQkbIbaK— Department for Exiting the EU (@DExEUgov) January 11, 2019
We were also told “Discussions are ongoing with the MZZ (Ministrstvo za zunanje zadeve – the Ministry of Foreign Affairs) regarding citizen's rights in the instance of a no deal scenario. We will continue to provide updates on this through our media channels [such as Facebook] but remain positive about UK resident's rights in Slovenia should there be a no deal.”
We were also advised to follow all the latest information on citizens’ rights is in the Embassy’s guide to living in Slovenia (here).
In short, with 74 days left until Brexit, and Theresa May’s deal likely to be rejected by Parliament later this week, British nationals in Slovenia can only wait and see what happens next, relying on the good will, and attention, of the Slovenian government to act soon and protect their current status, and the British Embassy’s continued optimism that it’ll all be OK in the end.
All our posts tagged “Brexit” can be found here
STA, 9 January 2019- The EU's future and challenges such as Brexit, migration and the upcoming Euro elections topped the agenda as Prime Minister Marjan Šarec received the visiting Cypriot President Nikos Anastasiadis on Wednesday.
According to the prime minister's office, the two officials called for a strong, unified and more effective EU, one that respects the values and principles underlying its foundation.
They agreed that migration was a problem common to all, so it should be addressed through a common, systematic and sustainable approach with the involvement of all member states.
Pleased to meet in #Ljubljana PM Marjan Šarec. #Cyprus highly values its excellent bilateral relations with #Slovenia. I look forward for more bilateral exchanges so as to enhance our cooperation in specific fields of common interest, such as education, tourism, health & trade. pic.twitter.com/1LlaSvVKLF— Nicos Anastasiades (@AnastasiadesCY) January 9, 2019
Slovenia's position is that it is necessary to enhance cooperation with third countries, especially in Africa, in a bid to tackle the root causes of mass migration, and to protect the EU's external borders.
Šarec and Anastasiadis agreed that the Brexit agreement with the UK was the best possible, but they expressed the concern that the UK may leave without a deal.
The pair also expressed concern about growing populism in Europe, agreeing that the developments made the elections to the European Parliament in May the more important.
They also touched on the situation in the Western Balkans with Slovenia's position being that the prospect of EU membership for the region was an important motive for peace and stability in this part of Europe.
Anastasiadis also met parliamentary Speaker Dejan Židan. Their meeting also revolved around the future of the EU and the upcoming elections. The pair also touched on the rise of right-wing populist movements in the bloc, the National Assembly said in a press release.
Over lunch, the speaker and the president also talked about the countries' healthcare systems and the importance of improving healthcare, and touched on the Middle East.
STA, 29 December 2018 - Slovenia's growth momentum is expected to moderate in 2019 amid mounting uncertainty surrounding the global economic outlook. Trade wars are seen as the biggest external downward risk, but there are upward risks in the domestic environment as well.
Global risks and uncertainty have been increasing throughout this year, in particular those related to the protectionist policies of US President Donald Trump and the uncertainty about Brexit.
Speaking to the STA, Bojan Ivanc, chief economist at the Chamber of Commerce and Industry's (GZS) Analytics, has warned of the risk of Trump taking measures targeting Europe's car industry, in particular Germany's.
Ivanc believes there is a 50-50 chance for the US and EU to reach an agreement on the issue, but he also says that potential measures would have a major indirect impact on Slovenia, considering the major role that the automotive industry plays in the country's exports.
Given the political confusion surrounding Brexit in the UK, GZS analysts see a 20% likelihood of a repeat referendum or a reversal of the decision to exit the EU.
The likeliest scenario, with a 50% chance, is an interim agreement that would put off answers to key questions about the future relationship into the future. The GZS assessed the odds for a no-deal Brexit at 30%.
Ivanc says that trade wars are a much bigger threat to Slovenia than Brexit because of their impact on the automotive value supply chain and the knock-on effects on transport and construction industries.
The IMF, OECD and the European Commission project global growth to reach about 3.5% in 2019, which is roughly at the level seen this year and the year before.
However, a more pronounced moderation is forecast for Europe's largest economies, including Germany, whose economy is now projected to expand by 1.5% this year and roughly as much in 2019.
Asked how the trends could impact on the Slovenian economy, Ivanc noted that the most recent data on exports remain quite good, but added that some companies at the start of the automotive chain are already seeing a drop in orders for 2019.
A survey conducted by the GZS among businesses in the autumn showed that most still expected to increase their sales in foreign markets and more than one out of three plan additional hiring while half plan investments.
The key problem for Slovenian businesses today is home-grown, that is a shortage of experienced staff and the related pressure on higher wages and thus higher labour costs.
As a further internal risk factor Ivanc mentioned a slow growth in private consumption. New car purchasing is getting less intensive although it keeps strong, and the number of real estate transactions has fallen in response to an excessive price growth.
Slovenians are mostly keeping their surplus income as savings rather than spending. This could be a cause for concern considering that the contribution of external trade to Slovenia's growth over the next two years is projected to decrease and even disappear.
Ivanc sees domestic demand as an important internal risk to the expected growth in GDP, along with dynamics in the phasing of EU funds, also in connection with major infrastructural projects such as the new Koper-Divača railway.
The GZS believes that Slovenia's resilience to a potential downturn is quite strong, at least within a year or two. Corporate indebtedness is the lowest in a decade and liquidity levels are still high.
Banks are highly capitalised and are financed mostly from domestic savings deposits. Household debts have increased but remain at one of the lowest levels in the eurozone.
Despite this increased resilience, Ivanc would like the government to put in place a suitable and predictable legislative framework that would make it clear on time what it will do when tax revenue drops. He says the government should create sufficient fiscal reserves.
Most of the latest forecasts for the Slovenian economy project growth to slow down from about 4.5% this year to about 3.5% in 2019. Ivanc believes the rate is realistic but also says that surprises are possible in both directions so the interval of growth is between 3% and 4%.
Ivanc says that a positive surprise could come from the construction sector and from Slovenian consumers, who could increase their spending faster than projected.
Meanwhile, the GZS does not see a scope for a positive surprise in the external environment, but rather a likelihood of a slightly more negative scenario, in particular in the automotive chain segment.
STA, 18 December 2018 - Jure Vidmar, a public international law professor at Maastricht University, said a no-deal Brexit would be the worst case scenario for Slovenia as he unveiled four scenarios he believes possible in UK's leaving the EU in Ljubljana on Tuesday.
Presenting the four possible scenarios, Vidmar said the British could change their mind and not leave the bloc, leave the EU based on the Brexit deal, leave without a deal or obtain a status similar to that of Switzerland.
Under the no-deal scenario the most would change for Slovenia, as the United Kingdom would have to make separate deals with each of the remaining 27 EU member states. "Slovenia is not likely to be a priority for the United Kingdom," the professor added.
A new regime for Slovenians travelling to the UK and vice-versa would have to be set up, the British living in Slovenia would have to get appropriate visas and Slovenia would have to ensure protection of the rights of its citizens living in the UK.
Problems would also abound in trade, as it would fall under the purview of the World Trade Organisation, whose rules are less favourable than those of the single market.
Although Slovenia does not export much to the UK, it could suffer directly and indirectly from Brexit, with pharmaceutical, electronics, nuclear and furniture industries likely suffering more than other industries.
Concerning indirect consequences, Vidmar pointed to the automotive industry suppliers, which could suffer if Germany failed to come to a favourable agreement with the UK.
If the UK endorses the Brexit deal with the EU, nothing will have changed by the end of the transition period, which expires at the end of 2020. Following that, Vidmar expects mostly political change, because the UK will no longer have its representatives in the EU institutions.
Similarly, the professor expects mostly political change in the case "a Switzerland +/- model", as he calls the third possibility, unfolds. But he believes this scenario unlikely.
As regards the UK, Vidmar said it was quite impossible to say what would happen, as the country could become "Norway, Switzerland, Singapore or potentially even North Korea".
CORRECTION: The original story, and headline, made great play on the low hours and low pay on offer with this position. However, this appears to be data entry error in both cases. While the website glassdoor.com still claims the job is for five hours a week, and €4.50 euros an hour, a rapid and very helpful response from the British Embassy has set the facts straight. In reality, and per the HM Govt site, the job is 22.5 hours a week and pays €1538.9 a month. Or, going by our original hourly count, €17.09 an hour. More details of hte vacancy can be found here, while the original article, with inaccuracies struck out, is presented below.
Brexit is set to be one of the most complex tasks the UK has faced for decades, demanding resources and attention from all areas of the economy, all levels of society. With just a few months to go before March 29, 2019, when Britain will either face a “no deal” Brexit – and thus the end of all current agreements with the EU, and made as a member of the EU – or the current plan, supported by Brussels and the UK Prime Minister Theresa, but unlikely to pass a vote in Britain’s Parliament. In short, after a few years of “phony war” things are about to get very real, very fast, and no one knows what to expect.
It’s thus not surprising that the UK Embassy in Ljubljana is seeking to hire new staff to help deal with the challenges ahead from individuals and companies anxious to learn how a deal or no deal Brexit will affect them, so that they can plan ahead, and – going into the future –handle to greater amount of queries, research and admin that will undoubtedly be necessary once the UK leaves the EU.
Find our how to get dual citizenship in Slovenia here
However, a closer look at a recent job offer raises more questions that it answers. The position of Consular Policy Officer was posted on glassdoor.com on 1 December. This calls for someone who can serve as liaison with UK nationals and local authorities in Slovenia, to keep them informed of the progress and implementation of the UK-EU Citizens’ Rights agreements. This will focus on providing accurate and timely information online and elsewhere, along with pro-active outreach to UK nationals.
So far, so good, and for UK nationals who live in Slovenia and have been worried about the lack of attention paid to British citizens in Europe throughout the Brexit debate and aftermath, and what leaving the EU could mean with regard to banking, pensions, employment, onward movement, education, family rights and so on, it’s a welcome development to know there’s going to be someone at the Embassy dedicated to understanding the issues, sharing the key points, and looking out for their interests.
It all seemed so simple back then.... the question asked on the Brexit referendum. Photo: Wikipedia
However, looking down the job listing one’s heart begins to sink. While a “deal” Brexit, with a transition, is expected to take several years to implement, the job – which is due to start 04 February 2018 – is not a permanent post, but instead being offered for 12 months.
What’s more, while the new Consular Policy Officer will be based in the Ljubljana office of the Embassy they’re only expected to work five hours week. This seems about enough time to keep up to speed with developments in London and Brussels, deal with any emails on Brexit, and perhaps engage in a little pro-active contact with the community, but far too little to actually grasp the complexity of what’s about to happen, or to provide the attention that individuals and businesses will need in the months and years ahead.
Finally, the job offer, with an application deadline closing 13 December, is five hours a week, so let’s say an easy 20 hours a month. For this the lucky applicant – who is expected to be fluent in English and intermediate Slovene, as well as previous experience or awareness of British and/or local country public sector policy development, among other qualities – will receive a monthly salary of €90, or around €4.5 an hour. This compares to the current hourly minimum wage of €4.84 (Wikipedia).
Those interested in applying for this job can see the full offer here, while those who simply came here to read about Brexit are advised to stock up on popcorn: things are about to get interesting.
All our stories on Brexit and Slovenia can be found here
STA, 25 November 2018 - Nobody is excited about Brexit, we are saving what we can, Prime Minister Marjan Šarec said in Brussels after the Brexit deal was endorsed at Sunday's extraordinary EU summit. "We opened a parachute about half-way before the ground and now we're counting on it to ease the consequences of the fall," he said.
The leaders of 27 EU member states confirmed a comprehensive and complex divorce agreement with the UK that deals with the rights of citizens, financial settlement, the border on the island of Ireland, a transitional period and a non-binding political statement on future relations.
Šarec said the meeting was over relatively quickly and that everything had gone smoothly and in line with expectations. "We're all aware that it's not a happy occasion, but if the ratification is successful we have prevented the worst," he said.
Premier pa pozdravlja, da je EU-27 s potrditvijo sporazuma prispevala k temu, da bodo negativne posledice izhoda manjše, kot bi bile sicer. Izrazil je tudi upanje, da bo britanska stran v prihodnjih tednih in mesecih ravnala preudarno.— Vlada Republike Slovenije (@vladaRS) November 25, 2018
?Thierry Monasse/STA pic.twitter.com/NBNpeEjJ4X
In the second part of the meeting, the EU leaders were joined by British Prime Minister Theresa May. According to Šarec, May expressed her satisfaction with the deal, bearing in mind that the only other alternative would be a non-deal, which would mean big problems.
Slovenia believes the deal reached was the best possible solution in the given situation, regardless of the fact that some in the UK say that more could have been achieved, Šarec said.
He said the negotiation team led by Michael Barnier had done a very good job and should be congratulated. He rejected criticism that the team only talked to Berlin and Paris in the end, saying that it was logical that more attention was devoted to the most affected countries.
The UK was a tough negotiator and it would not be fair to judge their negotiation skills from the outside now, Šarec said.
But the Slovenian prime minister warned that the work was not over yet. The Brexit deal now faces the toughest challenge in the British parliament.
Šarec is moderately optimistic about this, believing in the sound judgement of British MPs.
You can read all our stories about Brexit and Slovenia here
STA, 15 November 2018 - Foreign Minister Miro Cerar said that it would take some time to analyse the Brexit agreement drawn up by British and EU negotiators, while stressing that it was of key importance that the interests and rights of people were taken care of and that the economic conditions for companies did not worsen.
Speaking to the press after a government session on Thursday, Cerar said that the agreement, confirmed by the British government yesterday, would be thoroughly analysed.
The 585-page agreement, accompanied by a draft political statement on the future relations between the UK and EU, while it also needs to be confirmed by the European Parliament and the European Council, is facing the biggest test in the British parliament.
Cerar said that the extensive document was being examined also in Slovenia as we speak, adding that all aspects of the document would be presented to the public once they were thoroughly examined.
The most important thing is that the ministries monitor what will happen in any situation "with our people and our companies present in the United Kingdom," he added.
Asked for comment on the deal, the Chamber of Commerce and Industry (GZS) noted that the European Commission had formed guidelines for companies for the event of a no-deal Brexit which were publicly available in 22 languages.
"However, this does not mean yet that we can be sure that in case of a no-deal Brexit deal there would be no problems for business," GZS Analytics' chief economist Bojan Ivanc said, adding that their assessment was that bigger companies were better prepared for an adverse scenario.
Ivanc said the key risk for Slovenia was an indirect one, if there was no deal and if trade or financial flows between the UK and key European countries were paralysed.
All out Brexit stories are here
British nationals can apply for dual citizenship in Slovenia as long as Britain remains in the EU and allows Slovenian citizens to do the same.