No Such Thing As No Deal - How EU Brexit Affects Expats

ProACT Sam Orgill Highlights the steps Expats should consider taking to secure their future Living and Working Abroad.

Have you ever tried to agree a sabbatical from work or school, to find yourself embroiled in a negotiation and conditions? That you have to use holiday pay, or forgo pay, that you must evidence the reasons for the absence? 

Or have you ever tried to change your working hours, gain some flexibility, to have conditions applied to your reasonable request made with best intention?

Have you ever tried to get out of a phone or media contract, or leave a rental early, to find conditions and penalties being applied by the supplier of the service and property?

We all have, and when politics and business interests become involved, the lawyers swoop in and legalise begins to bog down the conversation, and before you know it becomes a negotiation. When you go cross border you have different languages and customs that further complicate matters. 

So we have Brexit, 28 countries, plus the EU commission, multinational business and organisations. Each with their own objectives. 

United Country - Sovereign State

The United Kingdom is a cross border but sovereign country. Maybe with 4 Countries, but a host of strong regional identities, languages and traditions. Cornish and Gaelic Welsh could be considered the British Language. Northen Ireland clearly has two languages and traditions. Scotland want an ancient right to independence to be granted, but would that involve the Shetland Islands going back to Denmark? 

Wessex, Essex, Middlesex and Sussex, may want to reclaim their Saxon German Roots, linked to the Crown, like the Union with Scotland. The UK’s North South Divide herald from the Danish Vikings invading from the North and East, to be resisted by the German Saxon South, while the British Brothers retreated to Wales, and the Scots remained behind the Roman Wall built by Hadrian.

After 100’s of years these rivalries are retained and perpetuated.

Continental Union - Forged by War

The European Union was born in the middle of the 20th century in the midst of two world wars based upon historical grievences. In the 20th century super states were created in Russia, the USSR, in China to absorb the separate peoples and languages into one Peoples Republic. The EU was a similar idea but also based upon the Viking notion that if you are a trader you don’t fight..

If Viking your ship was a hostile raiding force, cross border, coming from the seas to seek plunder.

The same ship could equally be a trader, come in peace to trade goods cross border. And so Europe is connected by ancient trading connections and routes forged in Roman times, before and after.

The political union of Europe, with the objective of peace, is no bad thing, but does it work? Is it necessary or sustainable for a relationship between sovereign countries.

A sovereign country by en large is a community of people linked by language and culture. History is littered with Countries created by conquest, or marriage, that have subsequently split apart. Acknowledgement that the sum is not necessarily greater than the parts, or even equal to that.

So whither the EU?

EU Brexit Negotiation

Brexit includes the necessary ingredient to be a negotiation and complex. It involves more than one person, and in fact very many.

Brexit was never going to be simple. It always was going to involve a negotiation. As with any negotiation each vested interest would never get everything they wanted, the final solution would have to be a third way, that allows everyone to move forward in a way that works for them.

The complexity of Brexit is coming from 28 sovereign countries with slightly different objectives, and an EU Commission bound by its legal rules and procedures, prancing politicians, business interests, and opportunists seizing the situation to further their political agenda.

Despite the EU rule that, once enacted, Article 50 means a country must leave the EU on the agreed date, Brexit was never destined to be that simple. There was always going to be a negotiation, process, and agreements on a way forward.

No Such Thing as No Deal

If there is a negotiation, then a deal must be done. It might be that the child can go out to play, as long as they are back before dark. Or the rental contract can be broken with a two month penalty. Or the investment contract sold with a penalty payable on exit.

Only in 2018 are the British considering a ‘no blame’ divorce. To leave a marriage of two people, there has to be a negotiation and withdrawal agreements - financial settlement, asset split, custody rights of children. But only after an application is made blaming someone for the breakdown of the marriage union.

A fridge you brought may not work, there is a guarantee, you still have to agree how the goods are replaced, repaired, exchanged or money refunded.

There is no such thing as no deal when a negotiation is needed, and negotiation is needed whenever more than one person is involved.

So there is no such thing as a no deal Brexit


There is one alternative, grammatically speaking, and so with Brexit. The UK and EU can agree a detailed Withdrawal Treaty or they could agree a basic withdrawal treaty.

The withdrawal treaty could be full and comprehensive, and setting out full future trading agreements.

Or it could be an agreement to divorce with no financial settlement or arrangements for future care of mutual affairs.

Despite all the noise , ‘No Deal Brexit’ is not an option.

EU Brexit could involve a minimum procedural withdrawal treaty to end the UK membership of the EU trading union.

At an early stage an agreement was made, and the UK government confirmed their intention to honour and respect the rights of EU Expats in the UK, the EU have agreed a similar arrangement, but the EU27 cannot confirm this, unlike the UK government, until after the EU commission have agreed and accepted a withdrawal treaty.

If the EU agree a full Withdrawal Treaty there is already a proposal for a transition period. This is a legal nicety, to avoid conflict in Brexit negotiations, allowing the details of trade and customs agreements post Brexit to be agreed after the UK leaves the EU.

The EU laws do not allow the EU to negotiate new trade agreements until after UK Brexit. Yet this is the noise of vested business and political interest, wanting a better trade deal now, and certainty to avoid the cost and expense of change

No Such Thing

EU Brexit will involve changes for expat business, property and pensions. There will be an initial basic deal for withdrawal, or a detailed withdrawal treaty with a transition period.

There will be changes to residency rules, business organisation and registration, property ownership, the need for Wills, taxation of pensions and business.


We know with certainty what rules the UK and EU apply to family and business from outside the EU, from third countries, this is one certainty for expats to plan around.

We know for certainty what the rules are within the EU for EU Expat family and business. This is the second certainty. 

Before Brexit Day:

  1. EU Expats have the current rights and access to the UK for Living and Working Abroad.

  2. UK Expats have the current rights and access to the EU for Living and Working Abroad.

These rights will remain during any transition period with a full detailed withdrawal treaty.

After Brexit day, or the end of a transition period, the new rules applicable under the final Brexit Deal will apply. They will be no worse that the rules for third country citizens.