Many peers would have received today an e mail, reproduced below, from 272 UK expats working and living in the EU. No doubt similar concerns are raised from the millions of EU nationals living and working in the UK. The Tory party created this awful mess affecting millions of people’s lives as well as our own economy for selfish political reasons. They need to address these concerns urgently and, in so doing, might reflect on Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian today 9 July 2016: ‘Cameron really was the true heir to Blair: both were totally reckless.’
Letter from 272 Expats to many peers:
For the attention of:
Her Majesty’s Government and its Representatives in the United Kingdom and the European Union
My Lords, Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are a group of British Citizens living and working in the European Union. As a result of the recent Referendum in the United Kingdom, the resignations of both the Prime Minister and the European Commissioner and also the general state of confusion and economic uncertainty resulting from the vote to leave the European Union, we are very concerned about the repercussions that may arise which could have significant impacts on our future and the future of our children, many of whom now regard their EU country of residence as ‘their home’.
As a small group of expatriates and their friends in Europe and at home, we don’t purport to represent the entire Expatriate Community in the European Union, however we do believe that many would share most, if not all of our concerns.
The contents of this letter represent a non-exhaustive summary of uncertainties about which we would like to understand the position of both the British Government and the European Union going forward. Its purpose is not to represent any political view or comment about the referendum itself, but to draw attention to the uncertainties that exist, and hopefully to promote transparent communication towards our community regarding their outcomes.
Many of the people in the group have spent some time outside the UK living and working in the European Union. Others are European Union citizens living and working in the UK. Some have been abroad for many years whilst others may only just be starting their planned travels now. We would like assurances that if we are living within the European Union outside our country of nationality, that we will be able to continue to do so without fear of deportation. We would also like to understand what rules may or may not exist, or may be likely to exist in the future, that could prevent our continued freedom of movement, for example, will there be qualifying time limits for continued residency, will there be time limits after which those rights are lost (i.e. the right to return). The right to continued residency, for expatriates within current EU countries, regardless of their ability to have an ‘independent income’ outside the Government benefit schemes in their country of residence, is of paramount importance to us.
Healthcare – EHIC, S1, Illness, Private Health Insurance
The European Union has provided for an excellent system of coverage from one country to the next and access to healthcare is a primary concern of anybody no matter where they live; for example, the right to continued EHIC. We would like to know the likely impacts to the provision of healthcare and whether existing systems and procedures will be maintained for those already living abroad.
Property – Full ownership, Mortgaged, Renting, Property Tax
Many of us own property abroad, some of us rent, and some intend to own or rent abroad. What guarantees will be in place in the future to ensure that we will maintain the right, as individuals, to hold ownership of, to hold franchise of or to rent properties, for either private or commercial use in the EU without penalty or pre-emption?
Financials – Bank Accounts, Loans, Mortgages, Savings, Investments, SEPA and Transfer of Funds, Insurances
Most expatriates bank locally wherever they are living. Are there any specific EU rules or regulations that currently make this easier for expatriates within the EU that may be rescinded in future? What steps can we take to ensure our savings remain safe and accessible? We ask for the right to financial security; to continue to use these bank accounts, loans, mortgages, savings and investments (without financial penalty) that may be outside the EU if the UK invokes article 50 of the Lisbon treaty.
Pensions – Private or State
Pension laws are usually specific to each country but we have heard that some bonus schemes may cease to exist after the UK’s exit or that there may be significant tax implications. What can the UK and EU do to protect those people, British or European, who have pensions either from their home country or abroad?
We ask for the right to maintain our accumulated UK State pension rights and our accumulated State pension rights in our country of residence; our rights to purchase an annuity, to better our pensionable income, in our country of residence, no matter if the investment annuity comes from an EU country or the UK.
Further to this we ask that you consider the following concerns regarding the State Pension.
All the adults in the group have paid into State Pension and we would like to highlight the following points that we deem unfair:
- The State Pension is frozen at the point of claiming.
- There are no annual increases, which UK residents receive.
- Other EU citizens receive annual increases and their pensions are not frozen at the time of claiming.
Education – University fees and Entrance, British Teachers Abroad, Children in Local Education at Country of Residence.
Many families abroad rely on the same facilities enjoyed by citizens, not least of which are educational services. How can we ensure that we can safeguard these services and continue to enjoy them under the same conditions we currently do? Can you guarantee that all children, of UK citizens currently residing in the EU, will continue to receive a high standard of education until the age of 18? Can you provide assurances that the EU Tuition Fee structure on offer to British Citizens who currently attend University in the European Union or who plan to attend these Institutions in the future will not change?
Animals – European Pet Passport, Transport and Movement of Animals
Can you guarantee that the ‘Pet Passport Scheme’ will not be revoked in the UK? Can you also assure us that there will be no return to the quarantine of pets travelling between the UK and EU as a result of the UK leaving the EU?
Safety and Security
What will change with regard to the current UK/EU policy on safety and security that may affect us? Will the cooperation between intelligence and armed forces that currently exist continue to protect the interests of all UK and EU residents, irrespective of their nationality?
Employment and the right to work
Many expatriates live in foreign countries for work reasons. This may be through choice or necessity but the right to work is clearly paramount to any person’s ability to support themselves and their families, and to avoid the need for benefit claim. What guarantees will be put in place to ensure that we will have the continued right to employment and the right to work?
Business and Trade – Small Business Owners, Import and Export
Whilst we understand the nature of the EU and the freedom of trade it enables, and the potential consequential danger to trade agreements after the UK has left the EU, many of us rely on the established status quo and will be very seriously impacted if the free nature of the UK/EU relationship alters. What will happen to the rules and regulations currently governing business owners, trade, and future entrepreneurs?
Income Tax – Double Taxation, Global Income Taxation and National Insurance Contributions
What guarantees can you make that we will continue under the same Double Taxation Rule? What will be the effect on Income Tax and National Insurance Contributions?
Benefits – Unemployment Benefit, Child Benefit, E101, Social Security, Long-term Sickness Benefits
Will those eligible, be able to continue or start using the Benefits available to them under current regulations? If not, how will those living and working abroad be protected in the event of the need to claim such benefits?
Wills and Inheritance
Will the law that governs current Wills and Inheritance Status change and if so what can we expect?
Passports, Driving Licences and ID Cards
What can we expect to happen with our current legal documents and when? Will UK citizens need new passports just because existing passports are EU passports? Will driving licences still be valid for use abroad?
Vehicles – Tax, Insurance, Sales, Import and Export
How will the current regulations change?
Customs and Excise, Border Control
We would like to know if there would be a requirement for Visas and what guarantees and notifications would you give to those currently residing in the EU? What changes can we expect to see and how can the impact be minimised or even made to be beneficial?
Contingency and Support in the event of reduced rights
We understand as a group that the UK’s decision to leave the EU means that many expatriate rights may change and that freedom of movement between the UK and the EU may be impacted. As a demographic, our group will be harder hit by these changes than any other. We seek to avoid change wherever possible. However, in the event that changes occur that have significant impact (e.g. deportation), what support will be given to those affected who suffer loss as a result?
We cordially request that the following actions be taken on our behalf:
- Each concern is raised in Parliament (both Houses) and subsequently,the relevant Governmental Department is notified of the need to act on their current policies.
- A channel of communication is opened between Government Officials and British Citizens in the European Union.
- A Timeline of Exit and a Plan of Action.
- Reassurances to British Citizens in the European Union and at home that any further negotiations on the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union will be conducted in an open and honest manner with the best interests of all in mind.
- Provide us with any other information and clarification that you may have on your position in this matter.
We thank you for your time and request that you respond to our letter. Also we would appreciate your support and commitment in helping British Citizens living in the EU with the requested actions.
For and behalf of the 272 members of the online group and their supporters
Brexpats – Hear our Voice