BREXIT – What does it mean for the two million Brits who live in the EU?
28 Jul 2016
Can I carry on living in Spain? Will I still be able to run my business in Spain? Will I still be entitled to free healthcare? What will happen to my pension – will it be frozen?
For the two million or more Brits living and working in other European countries, the EU referendum on June 23 result has created a worrying time. There are many questions going unanswered.
One problem seems to be that Britain has yet to prepare a plan for Brexit. However, there are treaties in place to deal with this.
There are so many questions still to be answered, but according to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties 1969 expats have now ‘acquired rights’ in their home countries, which they can hold on to as a result of Brexit.
Generally speaking, expats should retain their free movement rights within Europe and will retain all their rights following the withdrawal.
This, in fact, was the case when Greenland withdrew from the EU in 1985 and it can be safely assumed that the same will apply to Brexit.
If the UK decides to deal with immigration with strong tactics like visas for citizens of some EU countries, it is possible that the EU will make crossing borders for UK passport holders more onerous. The negative consequences of the withdrawal from the EU for British expatriates could be avoided, if the UK government of the time are willing to treat EU citizens who are living in (or want to come to) the UK generously.
UK state pensions could be frozen like in Australia where they are not increased with CPI. As well as being frozen, as the British Pound has dropped because of Brexit, a British pensioner in the EU could see a major drop in pension income.
A Brexit has seen the British Pound drop, but the EU will not be as strong without its second largest funder, so realistically how far will the exchange rate really move, in the coming months?
The process to leave the EU is important. Prior to Brexit, David Cameron, the former Prime Minister said that the British people would expect that process to start straight away. We would want to open a constructive negotiation with the rest of the EU in order to agree positive terms for the UK’s exit and the future relationship. The UK’s membership of the EU is established by the EU Treaties, and Article 50 is the process set out in the Treaties for Member States to follow when leaving. It is the only lawful way to withdraw from the EU.
Article 50 provides for a two-year negotiation, which can only be extended by unanimity. There could be a trade-off between speed and ambition. An extension request would provide opportunities for any Member State to try to extract a concession from the UK.
So if there is an extension beyond the two years we will be into General Election territory, and possibly end up with a different government finalising the negotiations.
During these negotiations, the UK team will be looking at doing the best for the UK economy, so as not to create problems for UK companies, growth, jobs, the Pound etc.
Finally, if you feel strongly about Brexit, it is advisable to contact the British Consulate.
To find out if you are eligible to vote in future elections visit https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. More information about voting from overseas and the registration process can be found here: www.gov.uk/voting-when-abroad or http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/