As the official talks on Brexit get underway between the UK and the European Union, calls continue for the future of expats across the region to be a top priority.

Expats in the UK are concerned about their future in terms of pensions, healthcare and tax, while EU citizens living in Britain are also worried about their future rights.


Time and time again expat groups, politicians and think tanks have urged both sides in the talks to get on with discussing citizen rights to alleviate the anxiety of millions of people who have chosen to make their life in another country.

Lady Helena Kennedy, a qualified QC who chairs the House of Lords Committee in the UK investigating the rights of EU and British citizens has advised them to make sure they can prove they had a life in the country where they are living before June 2016 when the referendum vote took place.

‘Make a file with proof of your presence and supporting letters from people who’ve known you, you have taught you or who you have had business dealings with,’ she said.

It is though that about two million British expats life in the EU, the majority in Spain, France, Italy and Ireland, although every EU state has a British expat community.

A lot of EU citizens work in the health service in the UK and the Cavendish Coalition of Health Authorities is warning that there could be a rush to leave if the terms agreed in the Brexit talks are not favourable for them, compounding a situation where many hospitals have multiple vacancies, especially in areas such as nursing.

The group reckons workers from the EU make up around 5% of hospital staff and social service carers. ‘Quickly confirming the right to remain for EU nationals currently working in social care and health across the UK removes the uncertainty and anxiety for individuals and their families and mitigates the risk of staff leaving,’ said a spokesman.

The European Commission has made it clear that it wants the first talks to focus on the status of expats and this, along with other issues such as the so called ‘divorce bill’ and the border between Ireland and Northern Ireland should be concluded before talks begin in a trade deal. The UK wants trade deal talks to run at the same time.