With around 1.3 million Brits living in Europe, Britain’s decision to leave the European Union on June 23rd is likely to have an affect on the expats living across countries such as Spain, Portugal and France. The European Union has, since its formation in 1993, afforded its current 28 member states reciprocal benefits in healthcare, employment and pensions. It allows citizens the freedom to move and work across Europe.
As Britain plans to leave the EU, currently within the next two years, there are fears that these benefits will be withdrawn, and the expats left high and dry without any rights. Some fear that once Britain leaves, expats will have to apply for temporary visas or even seek asylum in their resident country. In reality, this is unlikely to happen as no-one would benefit from such dramatic and chaotic measures. As it stands everything is in flux.
Negotiations will continue over the next 24 months, to ensure expats in countries are able to continue on living in the manner to which they’ve been accustomed.
How this all affects expats will be entirely dependent on the deal the UK Government strike with the EU. There are some major concerns, especially around employment and pensions. Some worry that they will no longer be in a position to seek out jobs across Europe. In 15 EU member states a rule exists which only allows them to hire outside the zone, if no-one else can be found.
In terms of pensions, as it stands those living within the EEA and Switzerland see their pensions protected and pegged to inflation and wage increases. Once it exits the EU Britain will have two options: to keep to this arrangement or follow the policy that exists in Canada. Those that retire to Canada see their pension frozen.
The good news is that there are viable options for the British Government. There is already within Europe, an agreement called the European Economic Area. Membership of the EEA includes countries within the EU and Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. For the three not in the European Union they can still enjoy the single market. Switzerland itself is not a member of either the EU or EEA but is a member of the single market. Swiss nationals have the same rights to live and work as EU and EEA nationals.
It’s not just expats who may be affected by Brexit. Every time we travel to Europe we are currently entitled to free healthcare via the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC). Outside the EU and EEA, Britain’s will not be allowed to access hospitals or medical care whilst on holiday.
With so little information currently available there is no way to predict the effects of Britain’s withdrawal from the EU. It will be a case of sitting and waiting to see what’s negotiated. It will be an interesting and tense time.
If you are considering a move to abroad PSS International removals can help. We are a family run company and our desire is to ensure your family receives a friendly, professional and stress free overseas move. We have specialised in international removals for over 34 years, so whether you are planning on sending a full or part household removal, excess baggage or a vehicle we recognise the importance of ensuring our customers receive the same level of care and attention that we would expect ourselves.
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