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If the UK leaves the EU - what are the implications for expats?

eumapIf the UK votes next year to withdraw from the EU, what will be the impact on British ex-pats living elsewhere in the EU?

The answer isn’t straightforward and will depend on many decisions which have not been debated in the British parliament.

If the Referendum result is to leave the EU, there will likely be a ‘settlement’ period of at least 2 years.  During this time, Britain and the EU will look at reciprocal arrangements, such as we now enjoy.  

But remember, if Britain denies certain privileges to EU citizens wishing to live in the UK, then those privileges will almost certainly be withdrawn from us, the ex-pats.

These may include:

The loss of ex-pats’ right to freedom of movement within the EU.   If we are not in the EU, we have no automatic right to remain in any EU country.  Under the Schengen agreement, we will then be limited to stays of 90 days out of 180 unless a permanent residency card is issued by the State of residence, with provision of proof of sufficient income for support and health insurance.

We may be required to have a visa/work-visa to visit/work in mainland Europe.

Visas can be subject to quotas. This change of status could happen overnight. The Quota Number each year could be reduced.  

We could (for financial reasons) be forced to move back to the UK which already has limited housing stock and problems with the NHS. An alternative could be to take local citizenship. Are your language skills good enough for that?

The European Health Insurance Card would probably no longer be valid - for UK visitors as well!.

Health provision under E120 (or S1) rules, could be withdrawn.  

Our British state pensions could be frozen, as they are already in many other non-EU countries, such as Australia Canada, South Africa, etc. The law allows freezing of ex-pat pensions, unless reciprocal arrangements are in place.

We would probably lose entitlement to UK benefits such as Attendance Allowance, Disability Living Allowance, PIPs, etc.

Don’t think these things couldn’t/wouldn’t happen.   We are already to be denied the winter fuel allowance in Portugal,  France, Spain and three other EU countries on spurious grounds.

HELP YOURSELVES AND OTHERS:   if you have been in Portugal for less than 15 years, REGISTER TO VOTE IN THE REFERENDUM AND USE YOUR VOTE TO KEEP BRITAIN IN THE EU. 

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote  - have your passport and National Insurance Number to hand.

________________________________________________

Question asked by Lord Lexden at 2.59 pm, Monday 6th July 2015 in the House of Lords:

“To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they will fulfil their commitment to extend full voting rights to all United Kingdom citizens overseas before the referendum on United Kingdom membership of the European Union.”

Specific points raised by Peers in subsequent debate:

1. Whether the right to vote from abroad would also include the right to provide donations to political parties in the UK.

2. The desirability of compulsory registration.

3. Why is there concern for overseas citizens voting in an EU referendum when, at home, 800,000 people born and bred in Scotland did not have a vote, though resident in the United Kingdom, in something that affected Scotland and the
United Kingdom?

Point by point response:

1. “Whether donations can be made from income that has neither been earned in this country nor had UK tax paid on it” is not in any way related to British citizenship and the question of extending full voting rights to all such UK citizens overseas, particularly when very many of these expatriate citizens (e.g. all retired military, police, fire service, teachers, local authority retirees etc.) also continue to pay UK tax anyway. This is why the government has already confirmed that the right to vote is not necessarily related to paying tax e.g. Russian citizens resident and paying taxes in the UK cannot vote but Irish and Commonwealth citizens resident and paying taxes in the UK can.

The Government’s “Votes for Life” Bill” quite rightly would link a British citizen’s right to vote to holding British nationality and not arbitrarily to how long he or she has been resident overseas, with exceptions only then applied to e.g. the albeit rather odd historical left-over of Irish and Commonwealth citizens.


As it is, page 4 of the Electoral Commission’s publication “Managing donations to political parties” includes as a permissible source of donations “An individual registered on a UK electoral register including overseas electors and those leaving bequests”.


2. Concerning the desirability or not of compulsory registration “if we are to have a referendum that gives an opportunity to all our citizens to vote”, the Scottish Independence Referendum with its over 84% turnout, well above the normal rate for UK elections, proves that compulsory registration is not necessary when the issue is considered important and contentious enough to be put to all British citizens in a
referendum.


However, the case of Australia which has compulsory voting, except for Australians who live abroad, is instructive. If the latter desire to continue to vote they must apply for overseas elector status within three years of their departure, otherwise they lose their right to vote. Therefore, an option for the British government to consider for the “Votes for Life” Bill might be to put the onus on the British citizen overseas to choose to register to vote or not, by applying for “overseas voting status” within a defined period of years.


3. The case of the Scottish Independence Referendum “where 800,000 people born and bred in Scotland did not have a vote, though resident in the United Kingdom, in something that affected Scotland and the United Kingdom,” has some important differences when compared with an EU referendum including all UK citizens.


To avoid a controversial and likely drawn-out process of determining qualifying degrees of “Scottishness”, it was expedient for the SNP and the Government to limit the franchise to the Local Electoral Register, which meant that all resident EU national citizens could vote in it but not Scots non-resident in Scotland.


In the case of the EU referendum, it is the National Electoral Register which is currently considered and means that no EU nationals (other than British) would be on this register, whilst all British nationals abroad for over 15 years would be excluded.

Together between 1 and 2 million UK citizens resident overseas and within the European Union will be involved, but not all able to vote, in something that will affect the UK and the EU and surely impact them. Unlike “Scottishness” their “Britishness” can be very conveniently defined by their passports and/or national insurance numbers via the existing on-line voter registration system.


Rodney Harper & Brian Cave 9th July, 2015

Votes for Expat Brits campaign

http://www.votes-for-expat-brits.com
http://votes-for-expat-brits-blog.com

Facebook: Votes for expat Brits
Twitter: @Voting_Rights

http://pensionersdebout.blogspot.com

 

 

 

Comments  

+2 #13 David Wenman 2016-06-26 14:44
Well, it happened! I decided to send a letter to the UK pension people. We planned to retire to Sicily and now they have changed the rules.
This is the letter I sent
We, David Wenman and my wife Karen Wenman are now living in Sicily. Sicily, as part of Italy, was a member of the EU up to about 12 hours ago.
Ten years ago we started to very seriously plan how we were going to live the rest of our lives. We realized two things, One, we didn’t have enough money to buy a house in England and Two, we would have to live on our government retirement pensions including the annual increments.

We solved the house problem by buying an old derelict farmhouse on Sicily and renovated it ourselves. It has taken nearly 4 years and is nearly finished. We grow all our own fruit and vegetables. We produce our own olive oil and salad olives. Sun dried tomatoes and pickled artichoke hearts last all year round. Our food budget is minimal.

We just manage on our pensions from day to day. The annual fuel allowance each year is needed to keep our chain saw going to feed our woodstove with logs.
Would you please confirm that our pension annual increases will continue? If not our lifestyle (if not our lives) are finished.

Yours

David Wenman
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+2 #12 Ed 2016-06-13 17:48
Quoting RB:
Quoting J Drew:
We applied in good time to vote in the general election and never received our papers.


Did you register for overseas voting *AND* request a postal vote? I've recently learned that BOTH are required to vote overseas and I'm left with 48 hours to get my referendum vote back once it arrives in the post next week. Just registering an an overseas voter gets you nowt.


My UK council swears blind that it emailed me the overseas postal voting form. this email is nowhere to be found on my computer system. I now have until Wednesday 5pm to sub,it a proxy form, which luckily I can do by scanning and emailing it. My last two proxy forms were returned to the UK by registered mail but mysteriously the proxy was never contacted.... I think that overseas voters are dismissed as annoyances by some councils, my old one certainly.
Ed
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+2 #11 RB 2016-06-13 17:06
Quoting J Drew:
We applied in good time to vote in the general election and never received our papers.


Did you register for overseas voting *AND* request a postal vote? I've recently learned that BOTH are required to vote overseas and I'm left with 48 hours to get my referendum vote back once it arrives in the post next week. Just registering an an overseas voter gets you nowt.
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0 #10 TedB 2016-06-10 09:56
Quoting Tg1894:
This article seems very ill informed, just scaremongering.... Written by expats with not enough to do

Please send in your article then.
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+2 #9 SueA 2016-06-10 09:41
In comparison, here is a link to The Telegraph article on the same subject ..http://www.telegraph.co.uk/n ews/2016/05/18/eu-facts-what-w ould-leaving-the-eu-mean-for-e xpats/
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+2 #8 vornie 2016-02-24 12:40
The treaty of vienna protects expats already living in another EU country. It may only affect an expat if they want to move to another EU country, and will then require a passport, possible work permit, etc. In other words – what applied to britons who moved to Europe to live and work before 1972 (not too much really).
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+3 #7 Ed 2016-02-22 22:26
Quoting Tg1894:
This article seems very ill informed, just scaremongering.... Written by expats with not enough to do

As it states at the top, this article was written by Rodney Harper & Brian Cave of the 'Votes for Expats' campaigning organisation.
Ed
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-3 #6 Tg1894 2016-02-22 20:31
This article seems very ill informed, just scaremongering.... Written by expats with not enough to do
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+4 #5 David Marsh 2016-01-22 08:59
We are still in the EFTA agreement so trade should not be a problem. I live in Germany and there are countless numbers of non EU persons living here with no problems. I am sure the EU will allow UK citizens to stay and live in Germany as with Swiss and Norwegian nationals.
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+4 #4 Lee 2015-12-19 04:41
Why do commentators and journalists continue to state that Australia has "compulsory voting"? It is not compulsory to vote; it is compulsory to go to the polling station on election day and have your name crossed off the list. You can then screw up the voting paper and throw it away, so you do not actually vote. There is no compulsory voting in Australia!
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