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BREXIT

Brexit: What are the main differences between a deal and a no deal for Brits in the EU?

Do you know how a no-deal Brexit would affect your lives in the EU differently to a divorce based on an amicable agreement? Here the British in Europe campaign group spells out the main distinction.

Brexit: What are the main differences between a deal and a no deal for Brits in the EU?
Photo: Depositphotos

Deal

The Withdrawal Agreement (“WA”) sets out our rights fairly fully, though there remains considerable uncertainty as to the implementation of those rights if the agreement is ever ratified. 

There is, for example, still no final list of which countries are opting for a constitutive system of re-registration (Britons would have to re-register for a new residence status after Brexit) under Art. 18.1 of the WA as opposed to the declaratory option under Art. 18.4 (re-registration would not be obligatory).

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No Deal

Grace period: Most EU27 countries have opted for a “grace period” immediately following Brexit, during which most of our EU rights within each host country (i.e. excluding free movement) are said to continue.  The length of the period and the clarity over what these rights will be varies enormously.   

Not all countries have provided details, let alone legislation, on our status and rights following the grace period for example Germany has not. (The German government did announce this week it was adopting a new law on a no-deal Brexit that still needs to pass the parliament).

Those resident in their present host country for less than 5 years:  Here the Commission has not recommended any particular approach, so each country has to formulate its own approach, usually based on its national immigration law for those resident less than 5 years.  There are great variations as between the countries, and a considerable degree of uncertainty even where legislation has been promulgated.

READ ALSO: The ultimate Brexit no-deal checklist for Brits in Spain

Those resident in their host country for 5 or more years:  Here, in addition to national immigration law, the situation is covered by the EU Long Term Residence Directive (“LTR Directive”), which the Commission has encouraged Member States to apply to UKinEU on the basis that their past residence whilst EU citizens should count towards the necessary 5 years.  The main differences between this EU Directive and the WA are:

  • Pre-Brexit absences permitted when applying for long-term residence: before Brexit anyone who has resided in their host state for 5 years is entitled to ‘permanent residence’, a status with enhanced rights: they can be absent for up to 2 yearswithout losing it.  Under the LTR Directive the same person will be denied the enhanced LTR status if they have been absent for a total of 10 months in the previous 5 years.  So permanent residents who have exercised their legal right to be away for up to 2 years pre-Brexit will, by a retrospective rule change, be denied the equivalent long-term status post-Brexit.
  • Absences once you have acquired LTR status: an absence of 1 year from the EU (which of course will include any period in the UK) will be enough to deprive you of any right to remain under the EU’s No Deal contingency plans.  This contrasts with 5 years absence for those with permanent residence under the WA.
  • Conditions for acquiring the new status: the LTR Directive requires States to impose conditions as to available resources and sickness insurance, and they can also require tests of language and knowledge of the country.  The latter tests cannot be required under the WA and the other conditions are more onerous under the LTR  than their equivalents under the WA.
  • Employment: Under the WA UKinEU have equal treatment rights with nationals of the host state.  Under the LTR Directive States may exclude UKinEU from jobs which are reserved to nationals of the State or EU/EEA citizens.  Such jobs include many presently held by British citizens in the public sector, such as teaching.
  • Recognition of qualifications: post-Brexit, UKinEU LTRs will only have the right to equal treatment with nationals under any national scheme for the recognition of qualifications, not under the EU scheme (though pre-Brexit recognitions will continue to be valid in most sectors).  Under the WA the EU scheme would continue to apply to those whose qualifications were recognised, or in the process of being so, by the end of the transition period.
  • Education and training: in contrast to the WA, access to education and training for LTRs may be made subject to language tests, and study grants will only be available in accordance with national law, not EU law.
  • Social security and health care: under the WA the existing systems for reciprocal health care and for social security coordination (including aggregation of pension contributions made in different States) continues.  In a No Deal scenario these come to an end, though some minimal bridging arrangements are proposed.  For UK pensioners this means that their pensions will be frozen at their present value (the WA would prevent this), and vital S1 healthcare (also protected by the WA) comes to an end for all those who are not receiving “or have applied for” treatment at Brexit.
  • Family reunification: the range of people with whom reunification is possible is more limited under the LTR Directive than under the WA (close family).

In addition, and most worryingly, the implementation of the EU LTR Directive in many countries was criticised as “deplorable” in 2011 by the Commission itself, and reform is still under consideration.

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BREXIT

‘Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed’ – How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

A new in-depth survey on British nationals living in the EU has revealed the impact that Brexit has had upon their lives, and their attitudes to their country of origin.

'Ashamed, embarrassed, disappointed' - How Brits in the EU feel about the UK

The study, conducted by academics at Lancaster and Birmingham universities, provides a snapshot of how Brits in the EU live – their age, family, work and education – and how they feel about the UK in the six years since the Brexit vote.

Unsurprisingly, it revealed that Brexit has had a major practical impact on the lives of Brits living in the EU – who are now subject to third-country rules and require residency cards or visas and face restrictions on voting and onward movement within the EU.

But the survey’s 1,328 respondents were also asked about their emotions towards the country of their birth.

Eighty percent of respondents said it had changed their feelings towards the UK.

A British woman living in Norway said she felt: “Deep, deep shame. Embarrassed to be British, ashamed that I didn’t try hard enough, or appreciate my EU citizenship.”

“Since Brexit I am disappointed in the UK. I am worried, and no longer feel like I have the same affinity for the country. It’s a shame because I love ‘home’ but the country feels so polarised,” added a British woman in her 30s living in Denmark.

An Austrian resident with dual British-Irish nationality said: “I feel disconnected, like it’s a completely different country from how I left it.

“So much so I feel more connected with my second nationality (Irish) despite the fact I never grew up in Ireland. It’s embarrassing what’s happened in the UK and what continues to happen. It’s like watching a house on fire from afar.”

The experience of living abroad during the pandemic also affected people’s feelings towards the UK, with 43 percent of people saying the UK’s handling of the Covid crisis affected their feelings towards the county.

A British woman in her 50s living in Spain said: “It was shambolic. Too late, too little, mixed messaging, lack of seriousness. So many deaths after what should have been a head start.”

A British man living in Greece described it simply as “a shit show”.

In addition to the Brexit effect, the survey also provided interesting and detailed data on the lives and profiles of Brits who live in the EU;

  • 69 percent had degree-level education
  • 77 percent worked in a professional or managerial role
  • 53 percent are of working age
  • 59 percent have been living in their country of residence for more than five years
  • 78 percent said it was very unlikely that they would move countries in the next five years 
  • The most common reasons for moving country were retirement (40 percent), family reasons (35 percent) and work (30 percent)

Almost all respondents said that Brexit had impacted their lives, with the loss of freedom of movement being the most common effect mentioned.

One man said: “My original plan (pre-2016) was to move to France on retirement, due in 2026. Brexit caused me to move sooner, in order to retain my European citizenship rights. The pandemic helped (indirectly) in that I got locked down in France in 2020, which enabled me to earn residence under the pre-Brexit rules. I had been talking to my employer about doing something similar before the pandemic broke.”

“I moved to France in 2020 in order to protect my right to live and work in France post-Brexit. My migration is 100 percent a result of Brexit,” said one American-British dual national.

Other respondents talked about the post-Brexit admin necessary to gain residency status in their country, financial losses due to the weakening of the pound against the euro and the loss on onward freedom of movement – meaning that Brits resident in one EU country no longer have the right to move to another.

The report also highlighted that only 60 percent of respondents had changed their legal status by security residency since Brexit.

For some Brits in the EU this is not necessary if they already have citizenship of their country of residence (or another EU country such as Ireland) but the report’s author highlighted that: “It may also offer an early indicator that within this population there are some who may find themselves without legal residence status, with consequences in the future for their right to residence, and access to healthcare, welfare and work (among other services).”

READ ALSO What to do if you have missed the Brexit deadline in France 

In total 42 percent of respondents were completely disenfranchised – the 15-year rule means they can no longer vote in the UK, while the loss of EU citizenship means that they cannot vote in European or local elections in their country of residence.

The British government has recently announced the ending of the 15-year rule, giving voting rights to all UK nationals, no matter how long they live outside the UK. 

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