Brexit trap stalks Brit expats in Europe

Published:  11 May at 6 PM
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As the Europe-based clamour for fair treatment for EU expats in the UK accelerates, UK citizens at present living in EU member states are being left out in the cold. Analysts are saying the Brexit negotiations will result in disaster for Britons living in Europe, whilst EU expats in the UK are likely to get a far better deal.

Last Monday, a group of long-term expat professional Britons who’ve made their homes in Germany met to discuss serious concerns regarding the lack of understanding of their plight by both the UK government and its EU counterparts. According to statistics, some 100,000 Brits are living in Germany and are totally confused by the progress of Brexit so far.

David Hole, one of the 50 expats at the meeting and a practicing lawyer in Germany for almost a quarter of a century, pointed out that EU citizens still in the UK after Brexit is finalised will retain their EU citizenship. This, he believes, will place them in a far stronger position than Britons living in Europe. He says the current juxtaposition of EU and UK expats is an unfair representation of the reality of the situation, as UK citizens in Europe will automatically lose all their rights whilst EU expats will not.

Less than two years from now, UK citizens’ rights to live, work, retire, receive healthcare, own a business or provide services will fall away, leaving them with few options other than relocating back to the UK. EU citizens will still be able to exercise their freedom of movement rights outside the UK, including the registration of their qualifications and access to their EU-based work-related pensions on retirement. Worse still, the UK on its own can resolve the EU expat situation, but the full 27 EU member states must agree on solutions for UK expats in Europe.

Bernadette Falconer, resident in Munich with her husband for 40 years and now retired, told the meeting she would lose all her EU citizen rights in 27 countries, whilst EU nationals will simply lose their rights in the UK. This, she said, is at best unfair and at worst undemocratic. Other attendees expressed their concerns as to whether their professional rights would be honoured if they were able to stay, and whether they would be allowed the freedom to change jobs.

Anger and frustration was expressed by many at the meeting over the government’s continuing refusal to reverse the 15-year disenfranchisement rule to allow those most affected by Brexit to vote in next month’s general election. The controversial issue is still being pushed by the British in Europe organisation, a coalition of 11 different Europe-wide groups.Theresa May’s reciprocal rights assurances are sounding even more hollow by the day.
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