Cypriot government ignoring UK expats Brexit concerns

Published:  15 Apr at 6 PM
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Brexit-related concerns of British expats living and working in Cyprus are being ignored by the island’s government.

For many decades Cyprus has been a favourite with British expats, whether for retirement or for business, with an estimated 60,000 former UK residents living a life enhanced by sunshine, lower taxes and stunning surroundings. At least 12,000 are pensioners, with many more drawing nearer to pensionable age.

Having survived the banking chaos and temporary freezing of their funds caused by the financial meltdown, Brit expats in Cyprus are now facing a potentially more devastating threat, that of Brexit taking away all they’ve worked and saved for over the years. The UK government is pulling out all the stops to persuade voters to keep Britain in the EU. Campaigning and publications at least stimulate debate and help to answer citizens’ questions. However, the Cypriot government is keeping its distance from expats with equal or even more pressing queries about the effects of an EU/UK divorce.

Expats on Cyprus need to be informed about the consequences of their vote as regards employment, residency, business, health and property matters. For example, will those who are registered as permanent residents need to re-register or will new rules only apply to new arrivals?

As regards employment, should Brexit succeed, British expats’ employment status will change. Will employed expats be forced to leave their jobs and will new rules prevent them from finding other employment, or will quotas be established in favour of Cypriot nationals? Expat businesses in Cyprus are run according to EU regulations – should Britain leave the EU, would they be allowed to continue under new rules or would they be exempt from changes?

Healthcare is of primary importance to older expats who, at present, are entitled to the EHIC health card giving free or very cheap treatment in Cyprus with the costs being reimbursed by the NHS. Will this arrangement be considered null and void? Property owned by British expats under EU entitlement rules is another headache as, presumably, should the UK no longer be in the EU, the rule would no longer apply.

For those waiting for title deeds, it’s an even worse dilemma as the deeds are issued to them as EU citizens. If Britain pulls out, will they still be entitled to the deeds? Expats need to know whether the Cypriot government are negotiating with the UK as regards plans to be put in place in case of a Brexit. British expats need an answer, and need it soon.
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