We have lots of British ex-pats working with us here at ICON and the upcoming 'Brexit' (British Exit) referendum is a hot topic. The referendum to decide if Britain will leave the EU is happening on Thursday the 23rd June 2016. The question being asked is: "Should the United Kingdom remain a member of the European Union or leave the European Union?". The options for voters to choose from will be 'Remain a member of the European Union' or 'Leave the European Union'. British, Irish and Commonwealth citizens over 18 who are resident in the UK, are eligible to vote along with UK nationals living abroad who have been on the electoral register in the UK in the past 15 years.
There is a lot of uncertainty surrounding the status of British people residing in the Czech Republic if the UK leaves the EU, so read the excerpt from www.telegraph.co.uk below for some clarification ... and don't forget to vote if you can!
Why the claims about Brexit impacting on expats?
Pro-EU advocates suggest that British expatriates reside in other European countries thanks to the European Union's right of free movement, which means EU members cannot bar or expel citizens of other EU states. On that basis, a former attorney general, Dominic Grieve QC, has argued that a withdrawal would see British citizens living in EU countries "becoming illegal immigrants overnight" if Britain didn't maintain some form of free movement after leaving the EU.
In a paper outlining the risks of Brexit, the Government said: "Many UK citizens would want any negotiations to secure their continued right to work, reside and own property in other EU states, and to access public services such as medical treatment in those states. UK citizens resident abroad, among them those who have retired to Spain, would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed."
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.
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. One important point though: this only applies to people who have started expat life in the EU before Brexit. After Britain had left, Brits’ ability to live and work in EU nations would depend on new agreements the UK negotiated with those nations.
What could they do to my property?
It's not all good news. The remaining EU nations could consider a variety of measures, depending on vindictive they feel towards Britain, like making foreigners homeowners pay more in tax.