Freedom Confined

I am a British Citizen in Austria. My partner is Austrian and we were both quite happy in the UK prior to the Brexit vote. We were probably looking to retire to the EU, but in general, work opportunities were better in the UK. After the Brexit vote there seemed to be an atmosphere change in the UK especially with regard the UK tabloid press.

After my father (my last remaining parent) passed away we made a decision to move to Austria. My partner moved first and then I finally joined her in autumn 2020 (during the Covid pandemic).

Although I have family and friends in the UK (and around the World); I have sold my house in the UK and now I need to make the most of what I have here in Austria. 

The place I am living in Austria is lovely (just outside Vienna), the people are friendly and I quite like Austrian life; it is a nice place to live! I will openly admit to struggling with the German; I can speak other languages, but I struggle with German.

I am a Withdrawal Agreement beneficiary, however at the moment it seems like I have to fight for my rights at every step.  I do not want to fight for these rights and would much rather go out and get a job, buy a house and live life to the best of my ability. Having this happen during the Covid pandemic is also a double whammy!

I do not get the feeling that the FCDO (UK Government) has got our backs and their systems and structures seem to be geared to obstruct at every opportunity. They are not pro-active, do not engage with the public and I feel like I am a nuisance to them. It feels like they just want to go back to dealing with the “I’ve lost my passport” brigade and promoting “Brand-GB”!

It is not clear that the Withdrawal Agreement has been fully implemented in Austria and certainly publicity to all levels of officialdom could be improved. My guess is that a lot of officials may think we voted for Brexit (which I did not).

I had all the benefits of freedom of movement before 1st January 2021 and now my freedom seems to be confined to UK, Ireland and Austria (with restricted rights). As I have not achieved full residency here yet in Austria, I feel like I am on parole and have to watch everything I do! If I lose the Withdrawal Agreement rights, I have lost them for life!

I am proud to be British and I feel like the United Kingdom is better as a whole. However, I do feel that the Brexit vote has set in motion a series of events that we cannot predict (the UK tabloid press and other political figures have a lot to answer for). The same arguments that were applied for Brexit can now equally be applied to the individual countries leaving the United Kingdom. On a personal level, even though it would make me sad, I would support Welsh independence if that gave me my EU freedoms back!

As Austria only allows Dual Citizenship in rare cases, at some point in the future I suspect I may have to make a choice between Austrian Citizenship and British Citizenship (as others before me have done). This is not a choice I want to make!

© KJD, 55, British, in Austria since 2020

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