What is agreed for UK expats

British expats’ biggest concerns – pension uprating, health­care cover and the right to live and work where they are settled – are protected by the deal

There should be no reason (apart from exchange rate prob­lems or difficulties proving legal residence) for people to have to return to the UK. How­ever they will have the status of étrangers and may have to apply for residence cards. Barring a UK/France deal they will not be able to vote in mairie or EU elections.

Onward free move­ment and local voting were asked for by the UK but have been dropped.

The EU believes local voting should be left to each state to decide and the UK will seek bilateral agreements. The UK agreed to leave ‘on­ward movement’ to talks on the ‘future relationship’ but said it was ‘slightly disappointed’.

An EU source said the commission is satisfied that ‘the life choices of [British expats] will be protected’ and onward rights will be looked at in phase 2.

He added that in any case EU laws provide, on certain conditions, onward movement rights to foreign ‘long-term residents’; and foreigners in Schengen Zone countries like France also have the right to stay temporarily in any other such state for up to 90 days in a 180 day period.

Some changes to expats’ rights come as a result of UK demands and the reciprocity principle:

  • Instead of expats’ permanent residence rights being automatically acquired (or after a total five years) states may require expats to apply for the right to stay, and to be issued a card.

People will have at least two years to organise this and procedures will be ‘streamlined’. Where states require cards, they may systematically do criminal record checks and ask people to declare criminality (residency can only be refused if they are deemed a serious threat to the state). Those who already have EU permanent residence cards may have them converted free, subject to identity and criminal checks and ongoing residence.


Other points agreed include:

  • Permanent residence may be subject to the standard EU rules including, for non-workers, healthcare cover and sufficient means so as not to be a burden on social welfare in the first five years – unless states waive this.
  • Expats with permanent rights may move away for up to five years without losing them. The cut-off for obtaining the rights is Brexit day (unless stated otherwise in transition arrangements).
  • Expats may in future be joined by those who at Brexit were their spouses, civil partners, dependent children or parents (unmar­ried partners will have entry ‘facilitated’). Children born or adopted after Brexit may join them but others (eg. a future spouse) will be subject to rules for foreign residents’ families.
  • UK work qualifications formally validated for use in France before Brexit are valid, and validation processes started before Brexit may be com­pleted under EU mutual recognition rules.  Afterwards UK diplomas will be treated as foreign and assessed under different, national rules.


‘Phase 2’ transition

In phase 2, the EU and UK will discuss a transition period of at least two years (the EP advises not more than three). During this period the UK would no longer be an EU member and would have no say but little would change so as to allow time for deals and to avoid abrupt change.

They will also discuss the ‘framework’ for the future relationship including trade and defence and security cooperation, however full deals on these will not be signed until after Brexit.

The EU favours a free trade agreement similar to that with Canada or a close ‘Norway’ relationship though neither is likely to satisfy the UK.

The EU is putting the agreement into a draft exit treaty, which must be approved at a summit in October 2018 before it is voted on by the EU and UK Parliaments. The ‘framework’ could be attached as a ‘political declaration.’ 

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