80% Of Expats Fear Brexit Will Impact Their Lives

More than 80% of British expats in Europe fear Brexit will strip them of the right to continue living in their new home countries.

They are also worried that their UK state pensions will be stripped of cost of living increases and the right to access health care on the same basis as local nationals.

The details come from a survey of 5,000 British expats living in the European Union by the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats.

The group chair Laura Shields said: ‘UK politicians must accept that the right to reside is not the same as an actual ability to stay.

“Losing their EU citizenship will bring a myriad of practical problems for Brits in the EU which can’t be fixed in a quick quid pro quo residency deal with the EU 27. The Government must think this through properly.”

No deal for May

Prime Minister Theresa May has announced she wants to make a deal over the rights of expats in Britain and Europe before Brexit negotiations start.

However, she claims some EU politicians have thwarted the move as a negotiating tactic, while more friendly leaders in Ireland and Spain favour doing a deal.

Besides concerns about keeping homes and jobs in the EU, British expats also want confirmation that they will continue to have their state pensions index-linked.

Access to health care is also high on their list of priorities, as the S1 process allows British expats to receive medical treatment in the EU on the same basis as nationals in the country where they live.

Right to reside tops concerns

The survey also revealed some divergence between Brexit hopes for expats in different countries.

The right to reside, automatic state pension increases and healthcare were most important in France and Spain, while residence, the right to work and freedom of movement were listed as Brexit priorities by expats in Belgium and Denmark.

Approaching an estimated 1.2 million British expats live in the EU – with most setting up new homes in France, Spain and Ireland.

The UK has Europe’s fifth largest contingent of expats.

Poland tops the list with around 3.5 expats in other EU countries, followed by Romania (3 million), Germany (1.8 million) and Italy (1.4 million).

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