- Published on Friday, 01 September 2017 10:09
Should I Stay Or Should I Go?
By Richard Samuels, International Financial Adviser, Blacktower Financial Management
Since it was announced that Britain would be leaving the EU over a year ago, expats and those travelling to Spain have been left a little in the dark about what to expect. With negotiations now in full swing, it is confusing to pin down what's actually happening – and how it affects Brits abroad.
Soft or Hard Brexit?
Whether the UK opts for a 'soft' or 'hard' Brexit will set a precedent for how the rest of the procedure will be handled. At one extreme, a hard (or 'clean') Brexit could involve quitting the EU without a deal in place. This would mean no compromise on issues like the free movement of people, leaving the EU single market and trading with the EU as if it were any other country outside Europe, based on World Trade Organization rules.
On the other hand, a 'soft' Brexit would mean keeping close ties with the EU, possibly through some form of membership with the EU single market in return for a degree of free movement.
What really matters is whether the UK aims for the kind of Brexit the EU approves of – as residency rights won't be fully guaranteed until the European Parliament votes to approve the final deal.
What will happen to freedom of movement post-Brexit?
It has been announced by UK government ministers that the free movement of people between the EU and UK will end in March 2019. There has been notable worry over what could happen to expats in Spain should freedom of movement be denied.
Former attorney general, Dominic Grieve QC, argued that Brexit would see British citizens living in EU countries 'becoming illegal immigrants overnight' if Britain doesn't maintain some form of free movement after Brexit. For example, Spain could ask British retirees to pay for their own healthcare, or curb access to healthcare services outright.
However, it has been reported that expats would enjoy significant legal protections that would apply after Brexit. Many lawyers argue that British expats living abroad in the EU at the time of Brexit would have individual 'acquired rights' under international law.
Brits who have already exercised their right to live in EU states can expect to keep that right after Brexit. One important point though; this only applies to people who have started expat life in the EU before Brexit.
In short; after Britain leaves, the ability for Britons to live and work in EU nations will depend on new agreements the UK negotiates with those nations.
What will happen to Citizens' Rights post Brexit?
Citizens' rights are the rights and protections offered to all EU citizens, including free movement and residence, equal treatment and a wide range of other rights under EU law regarding work, education, social security and health - held by about 1.2 million British nationals on the continent.
In the opening session of article 50 talks earlier this year, the two sides confirmed they would prioritise the question of citizens' rights.
The British government has yet to provide documents regarding the 3.1 million EU citizens living in the UK, but initial talks have prompted concerns that Britain will make an underwhelming opening bid.
The EU wants all rights currently enjoyed by EU nationals in the UK and British nationals on the continent and in Ireland, to be protected – but officials have warned of consequences of offering less than the rights currently enjoyed by EU nationals.
This could lead to reciprocal obstinacy from the EU.
As with much of the results of Brexit, it's very much a case of wait-and-see-what-happens with most expats holding their breath. So far it seems that Theresa May is outlining that British nationals living abroad should have their rights cemented, but again, we shall have to see how these negotiations pan out.
Perhaps the best advice for British Expats who intend to stay in Spain would be to ensure you have got your Padron and Residencia in place which will surely strengthen your position as to your rights as a Spanish Resident regardless of Brexit.
For further information call
Richard Samuels, International Financial Adviser,
Blacktower Financial Management (Int.) Ltd
Mob 692 352 156
The above information was correct at the time of preparation and does not constitute investment advice and you should seek advice from a professional adviser before embarking on any financial planning activity.
Blacktower Financial Management Ltd is authorised and regulated in the UK by the Financial Conduct Authority and is registered with both the DGS and CNMV.
Blacktower Financial Management (Int) Ltd is licensed in Gibraltar by the Financial Services Commission (FSC) and is registered with both the DGS and CNMV in Spain.