This week, Brexit minister David Davis revealed that the European Union plans to restrict the residency rights of British expatriates living within the bloc once the UK leaves and that has caused some concern for a number of MPs fighting for the rights of expatriates living in the EU.
Britons living in the EU after Brexit will only have the right to stay in the country where they are resident when the exit happens in March 2019, the minister said.
"The EU has confirmed that their offer only guarantees residence rights in the Member State in which a British national was resident at the point of our exit from the EU," he wrote in a letter.
"It does not guarantee the holder of those residence rights any right to onward movement within the EU, for example to work or study in a neighbouring Member State. This means that while a Spanish citizen living in Britain in March 2019 would be able to choose to set up home in the UK or any of the other 27-member states after Brexit, a Briton in Spain could only stay put or move back home.
"Their offer only guarantees residence rights in the member state in which a British national was resident at the point of our exit from the EU. It does not guarantee the holder ... any right to onward movement within the EU, for example to work or study in a neighbouring member state," Davis said.
"We have questioned whether this is consistent with the principle of reciprocity, and also with the Commission’s desire to protect rights currently enjoyed under EU law. This will be the subject of further discussion in due course."
The EU has also indicated that UK nationals on the continent will lose their rights to vote in elections after Brexit.
Conservative MP Sir Roger Gale, a long time campaigner for expatriate rights, told the Bulletin this week that he wants clarity on the small print of this letter.
"The rights of expatriates living in the EU is of the utmost importance and has to be addressed properly. I can see the argument, and agree with it, that once we leave the EU, those not already registered as a resident in the country in which they have chosen to live will quite probably have to apply for work permits and visas, after all we are going to be a foreign country. It will be no different to if we wanted to move and live, work or retire to the United States or Australia, for example. But, what I am concerned about is exportable benefits, which was a European Commission directive, pensions and health care.
"Unlike the majority of Spaniards working in the UK, the vast majority of Britons living in Spain are retired and depend on their pensions. They are in an extremely vulnerable situation because, as they are not working and relatively elderly, they are not economically flexible - unlike their younger and active Spanish counterparts in the UK.
"The vast majority of Britons living in Spain depend on their exportable benefits and I want to know what is being discussed and what the long term plans are expatriates.
"Are pensions going to be increased for overseas claimants? What is going to happen to someone who has decided to take early retirement and has yet to touch their state pension? Will the reciprocal agreement over health care continue in place?
"It’s all very well to say that those Britons who were registered as a resident in an EU state pre the referendum result are ‘safe’ but I want to know what that ‘safe’ means. I know the talks are still in an early phase, but these are important questions which want answers," Sir Roger said.
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