Unanswered Brexit financial questions still worrying Brit expats in EU

Published:  5 Mar at 6 PM
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Putting aside the problems of getting residency for long-stay British expats in EU member states, it’s the continuing financial uncertainty that’s causing increasing concern.

It’s almost unbelievable that almost 20 months have passed by without any real clarification of the rights of both EU and UK expats, leaving just 16 months for negotiators to come up with concrete, acceptable proposals to safeguard the lives of the millions caught up in the chaos. Even now, the effect of the referendum on the value of sterling has caused real hardship to British expat retirees as well as putting at risk the jobs in Britain held by EU workers and the long-term viability of the companies employing them.

Even more unbelievable is the fact that, at this stage in the negotiations, the ramifications of both a ‘soft’ and a ‘hard’ Brexit can’t be worked out. One fact’s for sure – the closer the UK comes to its EU divorce, the weaker the pound will be, causing yet more exchange rate hardship to British pensioners living all over the world. Of course, financial gurus are grinning all the way to the bank as the stock market continues to boom, but the millions affected by rising inflation won’t be at all thrilled. Expat investors are now being advised to ignore the UK’s property market and look overseas, as converting their gains into sterling could lose most if not all of their profits.

Reassuring statements that discussions about the payment of pensions overseas are ‘ongoing’ are beginning to strongly resemble fake news to many UK retirees living in EU member states. Low bond yields are starting to affect company pension schemes, and more UK taxes on transferring pension pots overseas are likely, according to financial experts. Diversifying expat investments is now recommended, but finding a trustworthy IFA in the majority of overseas expat havens is less likely than winning the lottery.

Even the government’s recent announcement that the annual UK state pension increase will continue to be paid to expats came with a rider that the government’s stance might change. EU member states with a large expat community as well as high numbers of British tourists entering visa-free are expected to support a deal protecting Britons, mainly because they’re concerned the money pot may be left almost empty should properties no longer be purchased and expat cash no longer spent on living costs or holidays.

Smaller local businesses as well as hotels, restaurants, and entertainment hubs are expected to suffer if expat communities are forced back to the homeland. Getting residency after however long a stay isn’t automatic, as seen nowadays by UK expats in France attempting without success to claim their entitlement to a residency permit after five years’ stay.
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