Ever since June last year after the Brexit referendum in the UK, more and more people are enquiring how this will affect expats who live and work in EU member states.
The United Nations calculates that approximately 4.5 million Britons live abroad, with about 1.3 million of them in Europe with the most popular destinations being; Spain ( 319,000), Ireland (249,000) and France (171,000).
The EU’s right of free movement enables expats to reside freely within any of the member EU states without fear of being expelled and if Britain doesn’t adhere to this agreement after Brexit, this could effectively result in Brits living in the EU states becoming illegal immigrants overnight says Dominic Grieve QC, former Attorney General.
There is also a possibility of tit-for-tat reprisals by EU member states as they seek to exact revenge on UK policy.
Theresa May’s government has previously stated that expats living in EU states should not automatically assume that their rights to live and work in Europe will continue after negotiations have been finalized and in theory it is possible —but widely considered unlikely— that expats will be barred from EU healthcare and benefits. Likewise, it is highly unlikely that expats will be deported by member states of the EU. The risks of destabilizing the economic situation by causing foreign investment to withdraw could have serious ramifications. Foreign residents will continue to receive various legal protection after Brexit has been enacted and if they have established a right to live in a member state before Brexit, this will continue.
When Britain leaves the EU, the ability of expats’ to live and work in EU nations will depend largely on the new agreements negotiated between the UK and the member states.