Young Brit expats in Europe crave more Brexit certainty

Published:  15 Jan at 6 PM
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It’s as yet unknown exactly how many young British expatriates are living and working in EU member states.

Although exact statistics are not yet available, research suggests there are significant numbers, none of whom have been given any answers as regards their long term status in their present country of residence. With Brexit looming on the non-too-distant horizon, none are as yet able to make an informed decision as to whether to stay or go. Research carried out at Goldsmiths College, part of the University of London, suggests the British government’s estimate of 784,000 Brit expats living overseas is far short of the reality of some 240,000, with the vast majority being younger workers rather than British retirees.

Around 75 per cent are younger than 65 years, with 70 per cent of the total having relocated to Germany, Spain and France. However, the figures quoted only refer to those who’ve been overseas for a year or more, thus not including students at EU member state universities, those on short-term contracts and seasonal workers. According to a spokesperson from the British consulate in Spain, registration for residency isn’t compulsory, meaning literally hundreds of thousands of Brit expats may simply be under the radar as regards official recognition.

The total British presence in the country is likely to be somewhere between 1 million and 2.25 million. Very little is known about these expatriates, making it very difficult to estimate the Brexit effect on their chosen lifestyles. Goldsmith’s BrExpat project is helping officialdom learn more about the missing millions across Europe, with one study identifying banking, teaching, higher education and tourism as popular sectors in which to work.

Even although reassuring statements are now being made about rights to remain, concerns in this expatriate sector still include the ending of fixed term contracts before entitlement to permanent residency kicks in. Others fear potential employers will turn their backs on them after they are no longer EU citizens. Those employed in academic research are afraid for their jobs, as their work often involves travelling between different EU member states, and those in the tourism and hospitality sector are voicing similar fears. At this crucial time, all they’re asking is a degree of certainty about the effect of Brexit on their careers and lives.
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