New official figures show that nearly a million British expats are living in European Union countries.
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The Office of National Statistics has gathered data from across the EU to profile the expats.
The aim was to find out how many people are caught up in Brexit over their rights to live, work and access free healthcare once the UK has departed from the EU.
Prime Minister Theresa May intends to start the two-year process by the end of March 2017, which will see the UK uncouple from the EU by March 2019.
Where the expats live
The data shows:
- Around 900,000 British expats have lived in another EU country for 12 months or more
- Another 49,065 live in the European free trade area (Switzerland, Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein)
- The largest expat age group is between 30 and 49 years old (280,042), with the 50 to 64 year old age group rating next (247,501)
- The favourite European destination for expats is Spain, with 308,805 Brits living there – and a third (101,045) are aged 65 years or over
- Other favourite EU countries for expats are France, Ireland and Germany
- One in five British expats are aged 65 or older
The suspicion is the government asked for these official statistics to see how many British expats are affected by Brexit and whether negotiations to secure their rights are worthwhile.
Every EU country has some British expats in residence.
The numbers range from between 200 and 400 in Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia, Croatia and Slovenia to nearly 310,000 in Spain.
Expat rights after Brexit
Lobby groups and MPs have argued that May should show Brexit goodwill by securing the rights of EU expats in Britain, but she has refused to do so without a similar measure from the EU.
She claims some EU leaders are reluctant to offer security to expats before the start of Brexit talks.
Around 3.2 million EU expats are in the UK.
“I expect and intend and want to be able to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living here in the UK,” said the Prime Minister. “It is only right that I should consider the rights of UK citizens living elsewhere, in what would be the 27 remaining member states.
“I remain open to this being an issue that we negotiate at a very early stage in the negotiations. I think there are a good number of other European member states who want that too. Some don’t – but I’m hoping we will be able to do this at an early stage.”
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