Poll finds two thirds of British expats in the EU are worried about impact of a BREXIT

by Ray Clancy on April 21, 2016

Two thirds of British expats in Europe are worried about the UK leaving the European Union, believing that such a move would have an impact on their lives.

Some 68% said they were worried about a Brexit, 24% were not concerned and 8% did not know, according to the poll of expats in Spain, France, Italy, Germany, the Czech Republic and Hungary.

The research by independent financial advisory organisation de Vere found that the concern ranges across all age groups and income brackets.

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“Whilst surveys show that the Leave and Remain campaigns are currently pretty neck and neck amongst voters in the UK, this poll comes down firmly on one side,” said Nigel Green, the chief executive of deVere Group.

“This is perhaps unsurprising as the possibility of Britain leaving the EU could potentially impact the lives of British expats in Europe more than it does on the lives of those who reside in the UK,” he explained.

He also pointed out that the concern is widespread amongst thriving expat communities in the EU from the Spanish Costas to northern European financial hubs.

Green believes that there are two key areas that need to be considered. The first is the impact of Brexit on personal financial assets. “Should Britain leave the EU, we can expect Sterling to weaken considerably against the Euro. Gilt prices are likely to fall and yields rise, as inflation creeps in due to the weaker Pound, and a new populist government gives up on Chancellor George Osborne’s budget austerity,” said Green.

“This would lead to higher mortgage rates even if the Bank of England leaves its policy rate unchanged as it tries to calm the domestic economy. House prices can be expected to fall, triggered by buy to letters wanting to sell rather than roll-over more expensive mortgages,” he explained.

“And on the stock market, small and mid-cap stocks will underperform as they don’t have the export earnings that save the FTSE 100 stocks from a wave of investor pessimism in the outlook for the UK economy. None of this is good news for UK expats with assets in the UK,” he added.

The second is the impact on government and specifically how the UK government decides to honour or negotiate on issues such as pensions abroad and healthcare rights in EU countries.

Key issues for expats are whether or not UK pensions will continue to be paid, inflation-linked, to expats living in the EU and whether other EU countries’ policies towards British families’ access to education and healthcare change.

There is also the issue of free movement of EU labour. Concerns exist around the status of British expats working in EU countries and their position regarding home ownerships and businesses.

“Whichever way the vote goes on June 23, there are likely to be repercussions for many British expats across Europe,” Green concluded.

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