But British expats are not sure whether countries in the EU have the authority to do that!
A notion further strengthened by the fact that Switzerland, Scandinavia, along with 27 other countries are trying to identify the best way to handle their British expats.
With the United Kingdom marching forward to a no-deal Brexit, more and more European countries are reassuring Brits of regular life, even if the offer on the table lasts only for a couple of months.
The catch is most of the countries, from Portugal to Poland, have made this arrangement to be contingent on Britain’s reciprocity of similar terms for their citizens.
Spain is a foremost example of such an arrangement with its authorities extending the same rights to Brits after Brexit provided the UK extends Spaniards residing in the UK the right to residency.
It is critical to note that this move follows the European Commission’s decision to ask its member countries to provide provisional residency permits to British expats, granting them sufficient time to complete the paperwork for long-term residency. Some member states, including Germany and Italy, have already indicated the same to the British nationals residing in the country at the end of 2018.
The critical question is about the nature of EU residence rights British nationals will receive post-Brexit, which will make them third-party nationals in case of a no-deal.
To understand it better, let’s assume that you are an American living in the Netherlands, and you receive exclusive rights as per the Dutch American Friendship Treaty. However, if the UK exits the EU without a deal, it’d leave British Nationals bewildered as they’d neither have citizenship status in the EU nor an immigration status after Brexit. The scenario becomes even trickier in countries like Spain and France, where the British nationals don’t have to register as permanent residents. Brits will have no choice but to stay in their host country until they receive long-term residency status. Even after receiving this status, they would only be able to return as tourists.
In the event of a no-deal Brexit, there will not be any transition period to put new treaties in place.
It is critical to understand that the UK leaving the European Union without a deal will not be the end of the line. The next phase is likely to witness intense negotiations aimed towards repairing the damages caused by Brexit.
The problematic part for British expats living across the EU will be that while they’ll be able to live in their present country, they’ll not have the right to travel or move across the Schengen Area as before. This will only happen if the UK establishes individual agreements for long-term residency with different states.
The best course of action for British expats living across the EU is to apply for a permanent, or at least long-term, residence permit at the earliest. These permits are likely to get harder to come by, leaving Brits stranded or making it challenging to return to their current country in case they decide to visit the UK during these obscure times.