Brexit. It’s the issue of the moment and everyone has an opinion on how it may affect life as we know it. And perhaps it is even more significant among the estimated two million British expats residing in Europe as it could affect them in a number of different ways.
Indeed, should the UK vote to leave the EU on 23 June it could leave expats in ‘limbo’ as talks get underway and agreements will need to be reached over their rights as non-EU citizens, which could be long drawn-out and complicated.
Impact of Brexit on expats in the EU
The effect a possible Brexit would have on state pensions for expatriates residing in Europe will, of course, depend on agreements that will be put in place. As it stands, Brits retiring overseas are not eligible for the annual state pension increase, unless there is a reciprocal agreement set.
However, this only applies to countries that were EU members before 1981. Therefore, retirees in the later additions to Europe, could see their pensions frozen if Brexit goes ahead.
Currently, expatriates who are citizens of an EU country benefit from numerous rights to work and set up a business. This could, however, all change, should Britain vote to leave. Expats may have to apply for a permit, although, this is a move that could vary depending on the country.
The subject of residency is one that the majority of British expats residing in Europe are the most concerned about. The right to free movement between all EU member countries is presently permitted to all citizens from member states. Should Britain leave, this could alter.
Although it is likely that Brits already in the EU will not be affected, but those wishing to relocate in the future could need to possess a visa.
A vote to leave campaign victory could result in EU-based expats having to pay for healthcare or purchase health insurance. Yet, this may prove unlikely as the UK allocates a considerable amount to countries in the European Economic Area for British citizens’ healthcare. Indeed, should this not be the case, the UK could do the same and deny free medical care to European nationals residing in Britain.
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