Two British lawyers, one living in Germany and one in Italy, have drafted a document representing the views of British expat groups across Europe calling for the UK Government to take their concerns into account over Brexit negotiations.
There are already a number of groups set up by expats in countries like France and Spain but now they have joined forces to make sure their concerns are taking into account when the British Government formally triggers the exit process which is due to be before the end of March.
The Alternative White Paper represents the views of British expats living in Spain, Germany, France, Belgium, and Italy and calls for their rights as European Union citizens to be preserved after the UK leaves the EY.
It points out that the referendum held last June on leaving the EU gave no mandate to alter the rights of British citizens living in EU countries. ‘It was no part of the (pro-Brexit) Leave campaign that their rights should be torn up, quite the contrary,’ it says.
‘It is therefore essential that whatever steps are necessary to protect these rights are taken, and taken as a matter of urgency to bring an end to the anxiety that they are feeling about their personal futures and those of their families,’ it adds.
The document, drawn up by lawyers Jane Golding and Jeremy Morgan, calls for expats’ pre-Brexit rights to be included in the EU withdrawal negotiations and explicitly guaranteed in a final agreement so as to give it the force of international law.
Some of the main concerns of British expats in the EU include pensions, healthcare, the right to work, the right to study and residence status. They want to know what their rights will be and whether there will be an EU wide negotiation or a separate one with individual nations.
The document also points out that other issues need to be addressed such as how qualifications will be recognised. This is likely to affect a number of professions including plumbers and builders whose British qualifications count towards them getting professional status when they work abroad and even insurance.
Other professions like nursing, architecture, photography and teaching could be affected with potential issues around whether British qualifications are recognised or if they would have to seek new qualifications in the country where they are working.
‘It’s very important to speak with one voice. These are real people, real lives, real problems we’re facing,’ said Golding, a member of Germany’s Brits in Europe association.