There are approximately 900,000 Brits living in other European countries, according to The Guardian.
Brits living and working in Europe are still facing an uncertain 2017 and beyond. Despite the fact that the decision to leave the EU was made last June, their future lies in the balance.
As members of the EU, British expats currently enjoy the freedom of movement throughout all member countries and can buy and live in any member state.
But when Britain triggers Article 50, these rights are likely to change. Britain and the EU have just two years from when the process starts to negotiate an exit deal. Nothing will change for expats while these talks are ongoing.
Freedom of movement was a big factor in the referendum and will be at the centre of any arrangement, along with access to the single market. The UK demands the right to protect its borders with a tough immigration policy and an end to freedom of movement.
However, EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker maintains his insistence that there will be no free market deal without free movement. This could force expats to apply for visas to stay and work in the EU, and neither side looks like standing down.
The right to work in the EU goes hand in hand with the right to live in the EU, so any decision will be subject to the same negotiations on free movement.
However, even if expats are granted the right to live and work abroad, some EU countries have a rule which states that non-EU citizens can only be employed if there are no other suitable national candidates from their own country.
George Peretz QC, a barrister at Monckton Chambers and an expert of European legal matters, said that the Brexit vote has thrown into serious doubt the rights of UK expats to work in EU countries. In fact, fear of losing EU citizenship has resulted in the number of expats applying for Irish passports doubling in the past year.
Membership of the European Union has been of great benefit to British expats retiring to other EU states, as they have the same state pension rights as those who live in the UK.
Currently, the estimated 1.2 million Brits living in other EU countries have been left with an unclear and worrying picture as to how the leave vote will impact their state pension income.
Health Care For Expats
Another major concern would be access to free health care in the host country if that were to be abolished.
According to the Daily Express newspaper; a Department of Health spokesman said expats access to the EHIC (European Health Insurance Card) is one of the issues that would need to be resolved during the withdrawal process.
The spokesman added: “One option could be that UK citizens retired overseas would no longer have access to necessary healthcare guaranteed by the UK government.” But this is generally thought to be unlikely to happen, as enforcement of this option would mean that the UK would probably have to adopt the same policy towards our foreign nationals – which would be difficult to implement.
Many Brits have moved and settled abroad since we joined the EU and, while it seems unlikely that their situation will be very adversely affected, British expats need certainty, and at the moment, their future is anything but certain.