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Brexit – your expat property questions answered

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THE DEBATE – should the UK leave the EU?

With the UK referendum on the 23rd June no one can be sure about the impact of a vote to leave the EU.

The vote is particularly relevant for those of us who live, work or own property outside the UK.

With an array of differing opinions we decided to look through some of the main news and information sources to give you an overview of the issues, the facts, the outcomes and answer some of the main questions posed by overseas property owners.

BREXIT – your expat questions answered

Could my second home in France or Spain be seized if Britain leaves?

No matter how hostile European nations become after Brexit, they still have to respect individual property rights. Both the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights make this clear.


Could Brexit see expats deported by EU members?

Almost certainly not. First, there are numerous political reasons for EU states not to do such a thing, including the treatment of their own, numerous, nationals living in the UK. Mass expulsions of citizens from another developed economy would also startle foreign investors and potentially cause economic turmoil in the expelling country.

Expats would also enjoy significant legal protections that would apply after Brexit. Many lawyers argue that British expats living elsewhere in the EU at the time of Brexit would have individual “acquired rights” under international law.

This is based on the Vienna Convention of 1969, which says that the termination of a treaty “does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.” The House of Commons Library says that “withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal.”

In other words, Brits who have already exercised their right to live in EU states would keep that right after Brexit.


Could expats really be barred from EU healthcare and benefits?

It’s possible, but unlikely – not least given that it would open the door to retaliatory measures from the UK which hosts its own share of expats from European nations: there are as many as 3 million EU nationals living in Britain.

British expats can also claim to pay their own way in Europe, as the UK paid £674 million in 2014-2015 to other European countries for the treatment of UK nationals. However, the UK received just £49 million from other European nations in the same year to treat those from other countries residing in the UK.

What about property taxes?

The tax situation should remain the same as there are bilateral tax agreements between the UK and other European countries that have nothing to do with EU rules and even local taxes should remain the same. Local tax treatment tends to be based on residence rather than citizenship, so the key factor would remain how long the property owner stays at the property, rather than whether they come from an EU member state or not

* Source – The Telegraph.




Screen Shot 2016-05-23 at 18.43.23The Telegraph reports …
The simple answer is even if Europe felt snubbed if we voted to leave, it’s highly unlikely that UK citizens would be penalised.

The Guardian reports…
Given the facts the UK should stay in the EU…

While both pro- and anti-EU campaigns exaggerate their case, the facts suggest saying no to Brexit would be the better option … and the EU.

Barack Obama…
As your friend, let me say that the EU makes Britain even greater

The Times reports …
Economists warn against Brexit vote.

Leaving the European Union would be a “major mistake” that would cost Britain in both the short and the long term, almost 200 economists are warning today.

The Financial Times reports…
Jean-Claude Juncker, president of the European Commission, has warned British voters that “deserters will not be welcomed back with open arms”.

Europe’s big companies warn over Brexit

Every year the Financial Times surveys a group of over 100 economists. 3 out of 4 thought leaving would reduce the size of the economy. Fewer than one in ten thought it would improve growth prospects. The FT has published each economist’s answer.

Similarly, a recent gathering of economists at the Royal Economic Society also expressed support for staying in the EU.

The FT also reviewed three recently published studies, by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics, Price Waterhouse Coopers for the CBI, and the consultancy Oxford Economics, which support this view.

The Guardian

“While both proponents and opponents of Brexit exaggerate their case, a review of the facts suggests that saying no to Brexit would be the better option for the UK”




The Week has an interesting ‘who’s in who’s out’ article.


Channel 4’s A Place in the Sun – how will Brexit affect EU property owners?



Some of the reason why we should leave the EU…

Some estimates suggest the total economic cost of EU membership is around 11 per cent of our annual GDP – which makes it something like £200billion.Brexiters say this money would be better spent on new British industries and scientific research.

Trade – Without the EU, Britain can independently pursue international trade deals with China, India and the US. A particular issue for Brexiters is the Central Agricultural Policy (CAP), which they see as wasteful and expensive. Nigel Farage believes Britain could strike an agreement with the EU that is similar to Norway’s – where they have access to the EU’s single market, but are not bound by EU agriculture, justice, or home affairs laws.


Most Brexiters see the EU as an over-regulated, bureaucratic burden.

Leaving, they say, would allow the UK’s government and financial authorities to design a regulatory framework that is more suited to our needs.
This is arguably the most charged issue in the referendum debate. One of the EU’s founding principles is the free movement of people (along with the free movement of goods, services and money). Because of this, the UK has no control over immigration from other EU member states. Brexiters often cite health and benefits tourism from other EU citizens – where people visit or migrate to the UK because of what they perceive as a more generous welfare system, or the NHS. The issue of how to regulate welfare for EU migrants was one of the main sticking points in David Cameron’s recent negotiations with EU leaders.

Recently, some pro-Brexit ministers have claimed the UK is at greater risk of a terror attack while part of the EU.

Some of the reason why we should stay in the EU

The Economics
The EU is one of the world’s larget markets, accounting for 25 per cent of global GDP. It is also our biggest trading partner. Currently, 45 per cent of the UK’s exports are to the EU, while 50 per cent of imports are from the EU. And our membership of the EU makes us a more attractive destination for foreign investment. In 2012, for example, we received around £937billion of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), while 50 per cent of UK FDI is EU-related. The pro-EU camp say this access to the EU market balances out the £200billion cost of membership. Although Brexiters suggest we would still have access to the market if we joined the EEA and the European Free Trade Area, this is far from certain – and would come with its own problems (but we’ll come back to this).


Workers’ rights
The EU has introduced many directives which undoubtedly help British workers and protect our rights.

These include:

  • Regulated working hours and break times, so people cannot be forced to work more than 48 hours a week
  • At least four weeks of guaranteed annual leave
  • Four months paid parental leaveand extra protections for pregnant workers
  • Anti-discrimination laws, so people cannot be discriminated against on the grounds of race, ethnicity, religion or belief, disability, age, or sexual orientation.
  • Protection for workers when companies change ownership

We get a seat at the table. The problem with basing our relationship with the EU on Norway, as explained in detail in this blog post from In Facts, is that Norway is still subject to EU laws and regulations – with the exception of CAP. This is the price it pays for access to the EU single market. However, even though it follows EU rules it still doesn’t have the power to influence EU decisions. If we stay in the EU, we will continue to be able to have our say on regulations and decisions.


Food, health and animal rights

Most of the UK’s food standards laws originate in the EU, meaning many potentially harmful additives are banned from food. This is why the ingredients lists for some of our food is a lot shorter than their equivalents in the US, for example. As well as this, the EU banned animal testing across the union, and EU-wide animal welfare standards have been imposed since 2012.


It’s estimated that around three million UK jobs are reliant on the EU – although it’s not known exactly how many would be in jeopardy if we left.


It’s easier than ever for us to get away, with visa-less travel across the EU. Our driving licenses are also valid in all EU countries, and we can work anywhere we want without having to apply for a work visa.



The one point to appear in both the pros and cons lists – which explains why it’s so contentious. From an employer’s point of view, immigrants from the EU tend to be better educated than UK nationals – around 32 per cent have a degree, compared with 21 per cent of UK citizens. From an economic perspective, people moving over from the EU since 2000 have contributed 34 per cent more financially to the UK than they have cost us.

In his new deal, Cameron has secured a ‘brake’ period of seven years on EU migrants claiming benefits, which would reduce the number of people potentially abusing the system.

People in favour of the EU also argue that immigration also creates a more diverse national culture.

Plus, staying would mean the 1.4million Brits currently settled in other EU member states wouldn’t need to move back or get visas.


  • above source Ashitha Nagesh for – Wednesday 24 Feb 2016



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