How Expats Could Benefit from a UK-EU Agreement for Citizen Rights

ProACT Sam expands on the new UK government initiative to formalise Unilateral guarantees offered to EU expats Living and Working Abroad in the UK after Brexit.

UK Request 

The UK has asked for EU citizen rights to be protected in a stand alone agreement. Protection of EU Citizen rights for EU Expats is included in the UK Withdrawal Treaty, but that is a bundle with issues that may not be ratified by the UK and EU.

So the British are asking the EU to follow their own unilateral lead and guarantee the rights of UK Expats in the EU in a formal agreement separate to the withdrawal treaty and the attached (contentious) trade and custom restrictions.

EU Citizen Rights 

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EU citizen rights include residency and social insurance agreements for individuals - not business.

These issues while organised under an EU agreement they do not provide uniform outcomes and services across the EU 27 sovereign states. There is a common way of treating EU citizens. However health care and social insurance rules are still set in each country.

So on the one hand an EU citizen has the right to move and take up residency and adopt the social insurance rules of any EU country.

However each country sets it’s own rules on healthcare and social insurance. Not all systems are the same. The treatments and benefits are the same in each EU country.

Anticipation of Social and Healthcare 

Expats relocating overseas should consider what health care and social insurance available in their destination country.

An EU country can create qualification periods for social welfare. EU Expats Working Abroad may need to pay into a system for up to 3 years before qualifying for unemployment benefits, sick pay, holiday pay and other social benefits.

Even if fully paid up in your home country, each EU country can set its own rules before making welfare payments to working expats.

Healthcare can be covered entirely under Social Welfare Rules or have a separate set of rules and qualifications.

Different countries have different service levels and rules. This could mean restricted services or fees to pay.

While a limited access is open to all expats could find significant payments for healthcare to meet their needs.

Agreements 

The EU has a common internal social insurance agreement for all current 28 member states.

Countries outside the EU can make reciprocal Social Insurance agreements on a bilateral basis. Individual EU countries could make an individual bilateral agreement with non EU countries.

This is how Switzerland works with the EU for reciprocal Social Insurance arrangement.

Before Cyprus and Malta joined the EU and 2004 they each had a reciprocal social agreement with the UK (already an EU member) to protect each other’s expat citizens working in each other’s countries.

Can EU Move Forward

If the EU makes a common social agreement with the UK on behalf of the 27 states, then all EU expats can get clarity of their rights on an ongoing basis. Whether they are UK Expats Living and Working Abroad in the EU or EU expats Living and Working Abroad in the UK.

The EU is going through a change. The Brexit negotiation team is disbanded (hence the withdrawal treaty cannot be renegotiated).

The EU Commission and president have ended their 5 year term and a new team must be elected/appointed along with the new MEP’s

No doubt many characters will turn up again.

But a new EU Commission and Parliament has a new UK government and prime minister to deal with.

Can the EU take a fresh view to find a way forward in the Brexit negotiation?

It may be by taking the different issues separately they could.

Where there is already consensus make agreements.

Where there is disagreements find a fudge or a way around.

In doing so ‘the backstop’ straw may no longer break the withdrawal treaty’s back.

Better for Expats in EU

The UK have already unilaterally guaranteed EU Expats citizens rights in the UK after Brexit.

Despite the delay from 29th March the UK are already processing ‘settled status’ for EU expats allowing permanent residency for a lifetime in the UK for any EU expat resident before Brexit date.

The UK request for agreement is to confirm such an arrangement across the EU.

This would mean that UK Expats Living and Working Abroad in the EU can be certain of retaining the same EU citizen rights after Brexit - with or without a withdrawal treaty.

While countries like Cyprus have already made such a declaration , the rest of the EU 27 will have the option of applying their own local rules on a country by country basis.

Creating certainty for all EU Expats could seen as politicians serving the people.

Meanwhile the difficult trade customs and Irish border issues, of interest to the taxman, big business and other vested interests can find the more difficult solutions to those trade and custom issues.


If you need advice then don’t hesitate to contact us for a free review of your situation and options.


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Healthcare in Cyprus is changing. 

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