What does Brexit mean for living in Europe after Brexit?
Whether you’re buying a holiday ski chalet in France or moving permanently to Spain, Brexit will undoubtedly have an impact on your decision.
The decision to leave the EU lead many to believe that UK residents would no longer intend to move to destinations in Europe.
Results from a global moving trends report indicated a 45% rise in move requests from European countries. This includes those British expats looking to move back to the UK, before the rules change.
However, far from deterring British expats from moving to Europe, the Financial Times reported this year that the vote actually appears to have acted as a catalyst in the decision of many people to now leave.
Living in Europe after Brexit: Now or never?
It appears the uncertainty surrounding Brexit and its ramifications for financial and family interests has encouraged Brits to start thinking about the immediate possibility of moving to or from the UK.
The process of moving to another European country is relatively straightforward at present. The right to free movement guarantees access to foreign labour markets. Restrictions on buying property are also few and far between. That could be all set to change however.
For many of us who have weighed up the pros and cons of moving abroad before but never taken the plunge, it could be a case of now or never.
We’re going to look at what the different options are for moving overseas and see what implications Brexit could have for people looking to move to or from the UK, both before and after the deadline.
We’ll conclude by looking ahead at what impact this is likely to have on the removals industry itself.
Stick or twist? Moving before 29 March 2019
What’s happening at the moment?
On the 14th November, the Prime Minister announced a draft Brexit withdrawal agreement. The draft document is 585 pages long and sets out how the UK intends to leave the EU on 29 March 2019.
It is important to be aware this document only sets out the proposed financial settlement and terms for leaving. It does not set out the basis for any future trading relationship or other areas of cooperation.
The draft agreement will need to be approved by both the UK Parliament and the EU Parliament.
The last sitting of the European Council is on December 13-14th and so this is seen by many commentators as the last practical date in which a deal could realistically be struck.
What we do know already?
Earlier this year the UK and EU negotiating teams agreed on a transition period. This will ensure UK citizens retain the same rights as before Brexit for an extra 21 months after the deadline, until 31 December 2020.
The draft withdrawal agreement says the transition can be extended, but only once and for an agreed time period.
As part of this agreement you can apply for ‘settled status’. Provided you are legally resident in an EU country you will retain your right to reside, work, study or open a business. This will also extend to other rights such as access certain healthcare benefits and state pensions.
This was not extended to include the right to free movement however, which will end on 29 March 2018. Therefore, if you wish to retain those rights you must move to your intended country before the deadline.
No onward movement agreement
Another concern expressed by UK citizens residing in an EU country is that their rights are only based on the country in which they are currently resident. For example, a UK citizen resident in Spain will have no right to move to Germany after Brexit.
Living in Europe After Brexit: Moving after 29 March 2019
The draft withdrawal agreement will be considered by Parliament and could still be rejected. It is impossible to say therefore, in certain terms, what moving arrangements will be like post-Brexit.
Although the cost of going on holiday in Europe might go up the right to go there is unlikely to be affected. The same cannot be said however for moving there permanently.
Free movement after Brexit
The UK Government has insisted that free movement will end on 29 March 2019, although migration will continue. Any moves abroad made after this date are likely to encounter certain restrictions or will have to meet requirements of some kind.
Living in Europe after Brexit: right to work
One of the major drivers behind international removals is the opportunity to live in Europe. British people are currently entitled to live and work in anY EU Member state without a visa. However, this could change on 29 March 2019.
Reciprocal agreements will be needed to secure mutual access to individual labour markets. If not, Brits looking to move to Europe could be asked to obtain a blue card to live and work in an EU country.
These visa rules are likely to be similar to or the same as those currently applied to non-EU residents applying for work in the EU.
Those already living abroad in an EU country are unlikely to be asked to apply for a visa, but could see their access to certain benefits such as healthcare and education restricted.
Retiring overseas and accessing pensions
A lot of people moving to Europe each year do so to retire, with Spain being the most popular destination. Restrictions on freedom of movement could bring about difficulties for those living in Europe after Brexit who are retiring.
A process which was previously straightforward could become more complex if a working visa is required, seeing as retirees are not intending to work. One area which appears to have been agreed upon already is pensions.
An agreement has been made in principle between the UK and the other 27 Member States, plus Switzerland Gibraltar with regards to pensions and certain other benefits.
This agreement means retirees moving to or already living in those countries will continue to benefit from the UK government’s ‘triple lock’ after Brexit, in line with inflation.
What’s to come for the removals industry?
A short-term boost in trade?
The uncertainties of Brexit are prompting more people than ever to move to Europe while they can. This could have the positive effect between now and March 2019 of significantly boosting the trade of removals companies.
Removal company operations
Once a withdrawal agreement is agreed, the UK will enter a 21-month transition period. In this period, the UK will no longer be a member of the EU and can start official trade talks.
The existing ‘free-tariff’ trade arrangements have been beneficial for removals companies in the UK, allowing them easy access to the European market.
Unfavourable tariffs or burdensome restrictions could prove a hinderance to removal companies when moving clients to and from Europe,
For example, added paperwork and checks at land borders. Particularly if a removals vehicle must pass through various checkpoints, could create timely delays and prove costly.
It could also have the unintended consequence of making UK removals companies less competitive against European removals companies when UK residents look to move back to the UK.
Of course, the result of the trade negotiations could prove more favourable for removals companies. However, as with most Brexit issues, they are subject to a degree of uncertainty. It is difficult to say in certain terms what exact effects they will or will not have.
Removal company workers
Freedom of movement has provided for easy access to the UK labour market. Man British companies, large and small, have benefitted from access to skilled EU workers. This includes the removals industry.
With the end of free movement this could prevent access to this skills pool for removals companies. On the other hand, it might create more working or studying opportunities for workers in the UK.
Whatever the outcome of Brexit, removals companies could be in for a busy year.
Need help moving to Europe?
If you’re planning on moving overseas but are no sure about what your options are give White & Company a call.
We’ve been moving customers to Europe for over 135 years’. Our friendly and dedicated staff will answer any questions you may have about the process.
Give us a call us on the number listed above. Alternatively, fill out a quick quote form and a member of customer services team will be in touch shortly.
*This article was updated and all information is correct to the author’s knowledge as of 19 November 2018*