20 Feb, 2017 @ 13:00
1 min read

Four out of five expats ‘very concerned’ about losing rights after Brexit


brexitFOUR out of five expats are afraid of losing their right to reside after Brexit.

Some 83% of expats living in the EU are ‘very concerned’ about the impact Brexit could have on their rights and benefits as an EU citizen, a new survey has revealed.

Of the 5000 expats that responded to the survey, almost a quarter live in Spain.

Conducted by the Brussels and Europe Liberal Democrats, the survey found that the right to reside, automatic pension increases and S1 healthcare worries were the top concerns for expats living in Spain.


This comes after the expat group Bremain in Spain recently put its weight behind a campaign to demand EU passports for expats.

Elsa Maishman (Reporter)

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  1. Probably UK immigrants will lose their privileged positions and be treated the same as other immigrants. If they follow the rules, they won’t have any more or fewer problems than citizens of other non-Schengen countries.

    • You don´t seem to base your opinion on facts. At the moment being a member of the EU, UK residents in EU such as myself are treated as any other national of that country. When the UK leaves the EU, UK residents may lose all their acquired rights, and since I myself have been living in Spain for 23 years I don´t want to lose out on all the taxes I have paid here towards my pension.

    • The difference is that other immigrants living in EU27 countries have not built their lives upon a set of rights that will now be stripped away from them. We have bought houses, started businesses, and created relationships as EU citizens with all of the associated rights. Many of us were born with those rights.
      Now, our right to live and work in our host countries is at risk through no fault of our own. It’s not a case of just following the rules, it’s a case of the rules being changed mid-game.

      • That makes sense, Zoe. I left Britain 40 years ago but took a scenic route through both parts of Ireland and also Cuba before ending up in the Canary Islands. I have no links to Britain other than the accident of birth and a passport I never liked. I came here before the referendum, when people I knew in both Britain and Spain all believed that no country would be stupid enough to leave the EU. It is Britain that has changed, not us. We came here as legal immigrants. I hope Spain will process applications for Permanent Residence and citizenship on that basis. Britain is the troublemaker in this; if only they would guarantee the rights of EU citizens there, the other European countries would have no reason to treat us differently from other EU citizens.

  2. UK expats do not have privileged positions in Europe, they have rights, and the potential loss of them after having them for so long is the main issue of concern. This situation is vastly unlike expats from outside of Europe.

      • Not necessarily, as per Mr Rajoy’s own comments. Detail has yet to be fleshed out, but there are many factors to take in account for bilateral deals, such as closeness in geographical terms, trade links, tourism, and of course the reciprocal issue of residents and workers in both countries. Then there is the possibility of associate EU passports.

      • You don´t seem to base your opinion on facts. At the moment being a member of the EU, UK residents in EU such as myself are treated as any other national of that country. When the UK leaves the EU, UK residents may lose all their acquired rights, and since I myself have been living in Spain for 23 years I don´t want to lose out on all the taxes I have paid here towards my pension.

  3. 48% voted to Remain in the EU and they are quite rightly worried about having part of their citizenship ripped away from them against their will. Ultimately, the solution is to offer ‘Associate EU Citizenship’ (a completely voluntary scheme) for those who voted to Remain in the EU and also for those who have lived in EU members states for more than 15 years and were not eligible to vote in the referendum. By law, the ballot papers have to be kept for 1 year and 1 day so perhaps a court order could be issued so they can be separated and then identified – each ballot paper has an identity code which can be checked against the name on the electoral roll. EU residents who were ineligible to vote could be given the benefit of the doubt.

    You can’t compare the UK to somewhere that has never been part of the EU because we have had ties for over 40 years. What we need now is a parting of the ways and the 48% must be given the option to continue being part of the EU. It would involve an annual fee which most people would be more than happy to pay within reason. The 52% can then pull up the drawbridge and say ‘adios’.

    • Not happening Jane leave it. The politicians in the UK (all of them) are happy that we have left don’t let them tell you otherwise. They are all making (and have made already) fortunes on the currency exchanges and share market. They love volatility which they are creating by making speaches and riling up the rest of the EU.
      We (the UK) have had a vote and we are leaving the EU. Suck it up and try and see the positives.
      As I live and work in Gibraltar I have more to fear than most but will not let things like Brexit get me down.
      The EU was and is just for the rich anyway. Spain is doomed even though we get people still saying things are looking up…..Italy, Greece and to a lesser extent Ireland are all teetering on the bring of another crisis IF anyone in the powers that be are honest :-) yes sorry like that’s gonna happen.

      • EU was for everyone NOT just the rich…you only have to look at worker protection laws to understand that. Gibraltar on the other hand is very definitely a rich man´s paradise, and its future is very much in question due to Brexit. Maybe you should go back to Little England?

        • Gibraltar has been thru more than Brexit so we will manage just fine thank you. It is not paradise by a long way but as I have lived here longer than in UK not sure I’ll be going back to Blightly anytime soon.
          The EU just created jobs for failed politicians and beaurocrats and even things like freedom of movement wasn’t for you Alex it was for big businesses to get cheap labour. The Euro wasn’t to make life simpler as it didn’t hinder the UK and others who didn’t sign up to the madness.

      • What? despite being able to work without work or residence permits, Cultural and educational programs, a whole stack of laws ranging from protection of the environment to human rights legislation, Erasmus etc, etc? Just for the rich? Rubbish!! I’m most certainly not rich. We’ve benefited from loads of things as a result of the EU. All this to be lost in return for what?

        • Most accurate comments from the above. People just do not realise how much people benefit from EU laws. Unfortunately, the EU did a terrible job communicating all of these facts. The average man on the street only mentions immigration.

      • Bluemoongib, that’s an interesting reply. You are in a very vulnerable situation so you have much to worry about, not least the possibility of Spain closing the border with Gibraltar.

        I suspect you have not thoroughly researched the proposed Associate EU Citizenship scheme which is a real possibility and would not require EU treaty change or approval from the UK government. You should not fear this proposed scheme, instead you should try to embrace it and see the positives of which there are many.

  4. if the expats had been allowed to vote it is highly likely the razor thing ‘brexit’ margin wouldn’t even exist, the majority vote would be to remain! This is insanity and a severe violation of human rights – people have organized their lives for years, decades even, around the fundamental concept of EU citizenship.

    • I agree, it is outrageous that British citizens who have lived in EU member states for more than 15 years were denied a vote and Cameron should have made sure this law was changed prior to the referendum. This is something that will change their lives forever and cynically, the 15 year rule is set to be reversed. This violation of human rights, together with people who didn’t bother to vote because they thought Remain would win, is the reason we are having this debate. If these people had voted in the referendum, it could have swung the result the other way.

  5. Anyone living in Spain who believes that after Brexit nothing will change is burying their head in the sand. Maybe, for many that are not concerned, it is because they are financially secure, so will be cushioned from any financial blows. However, for pensioners on low incomes, already suffering a 15% reduction in the value of their pension, & with the expectation that the exchange rate will get even worse, they do not have that luxury. Should their health care not be guaranteed, then for many, they would have no option but to return to the UK & put further strain on the NHS & Social Care. Spare a thought for thousands that are sick with worry about their futures & the prospect of having to uproot their lives & go back o a country they no longer even recognise.

  6. Any of us that moved to another country in the EU did so under a set of protocols. We had rights. Rights of healthcare, pensions, freedom of movement and much more. Settled, we thought. Safe, we thought. Now, a Government, headed by a complete tyrant, has decided to unsettle us, rescind our safety and use us like bargaining chips in a game of poker. A game they want to win at all costs.

    I and my family, settled in Spain for 17 years are scared, very, very scared!

    • don’t be scared Karen, we have not lost the battle yet. The tyrant in Downing Street knows we are fighting and most of the British people do not agree with her. Chin up we will win.

  7. I find it amazing that so many UK immigrants living in Spain, voted leave, and are now saying it’s ‘the will of the people’. Many of us moved here thanks to being EU Citizens, and we are devastated that we did not get a vote and that we are being used by the UK as bargaining chips.
    Of course we are worried about our futures, our pensions and our healthcare, and the UK Government hasn’t given us any assurances, so we like EU immigrants living in the UK are in limbo.
    As for people knocking Spain, please stop! Spain has welcomed us with open arms, and is trying to protect us, by asking the UK Government for a reciprocal deal.

    • Have faith Valerie, I do not believe England is as bigoted as it looks. Theresa May and her gang of far right mobsters know that as well. That is why they are so keen to deny us a second referendum or a General Election. And why they have tried to get everything through without Parliament’s vote. That woman is heading for a serious fall. It can not come soon enough

  8. The Referendum ignored UK residents in the EU for over 15 years as well as 3 million EU residents in UK all of whom would have voted to Remain. And yet Australian residents in UK for a year were allowed to vote? Where is the Democratic process in that?

  9. My husband and I have been living very happily in Spain for some years now. Originally we came for my husband’s health as the climate and the treatment he receives here could never be replicated in the UK. We have come to love the way of life here and have been made most welcome by the Spanish people. We have no intention of returning to the country of our birth because is is almost unrecognisable now. If it takes all our life savings we will remain. I am deeply saddened that my country has become so bigoted and inward looking.

  10. Spain is a fabulous country and bluemoongib is obviously a Gibraltarian who has a totally different agenda to most UK residents in Spain. I have many Gib friends who thankfully are not full of vitriol and can see what is happening from an objective standpoint. Viva España y los Españoles!! :-D

    • What vitriol? My main point was that when something has happened it is no use whingeing about it and even less so worrying about it.
      Spain’s economy is as sick as many of its’ people who like shooting defenceless animals and birds and watching other defenceless animals get tortured and killed not to mention their “love” for dogs. Viva them yes? Try your viva on your Gibraltarian friends and you will lose quite a lot of them.
      Spain has closed the border before and we didn’t all die. Suck it up and plan your future. We don’t know what will happen…the way the World is we could be at war soon but no let’s whinge about our pensions and the exchange rate.
      Bensusan is a very common name here in Gib as I am sure you are aware. I am not Gibraltarian and voted of course to remain like 90 odd percent of us here but worrying and whingeing about something that is done will not help anyone.

      • Well, Britain is not better in that aspect.
        They love to kill foxes in the most horrendous way, they have created dog fighting, cock fighting and other aberrations.
        As for the economy, being out of the EU, out of the single market and out of the WTO will not help too much, no?
        45% of UK exportations went to the EU.
        Replacing that market will take a pair of decades at least.
        It seems you are as boludo as May, Johnson and the rest of the geniuses who are running the UK. Not to mention fatty pigardo.

  11. Karen,
    your post is mostly very rational and your anxiety is justified. I was all for the EEC, could’nt see why we should’nt have joined right at the beginning, de Gaulle in part stopped that and he was right, if they let in the UK it would be America’s back door entry.

    However it was not in the Nasty party’s interest and the Labour party was so stupid that it never mentioned and loudly about the huge elephant in the founding tenets – the free movement of capital and labour. This one ‘principal’ was only ever meant to benefit big business, it works totally against the interests of ordinary Europeans.

    Always and long before the EEC people from all over Europe have moved around and worked in different European countries. My father did at 16 went to work in the Italian Alps at Strezza, learning to speak fluent Italian and French but strictly on a one for one basis.

    To forget or deny that the EU is an organisation solely for the benefit of big business is really stupid. AFAIK there is only one pure harmonisation that actually exists across all 28 EU countries after more than 50 years – all road signs conform, why, because road haulage drivers from different countries do not get confused when travelling in other EU countries – time is money, that ordinary motorists benefit as well is co-incidental. there is no harmonisation in banking,insurance, justice, education and on and on.

    That the EU is controlled by Germany with their lapdog France is not up for discussion. That the Euro is solely for the benefit of German big business as was the ridiculously low % rate at inception.

    So you came to live in Spain just before the introduction of the Euro. Did you seriously do a macro overview of the EU (as was) vital even if you stay in your own country but far more so than moving abroad. Sadly most people are familiar with the micro, their own little world but totally forget the macro.

    As the years have rolled by the EEC morphed into something really ugly,privileged and counter democratic. Surely if you keep yourself informed the day that Juncker the blatant tax fraudster was almost unanimously elected President should have meant the alarm bells were ringing.

    A macro view of Europe within a world context and the rise of China and Asia thanks to European and America’s elite blatantly abandoning their own working peoples meant that slowly but surely Europe especially will see increasingly a lowering of standard of living as it’s share of world trade declines, this is inevitable, Brexit or not, EU or not. Those who choose not to study the macro-economics will find huge shocks coming their way for which they are ill prepared – no government of any colour is going to look after your interests, you have to do that for yourself.

  12. The government are playing political games with the lives of millions of people, and disregarding the loss of opportunities which will be denied to our children & grandchildren. They don’t care if the UK sinks economically (which it will) or becomes a racist, bigoted place to live (which it has). They are in this for themselves, aided by the billionaires who own the ‘news’. The Brexit campaign and subsequent vote was based on outright lies. Incidentally, is anyone actually running the country and dealing with the day-to-day stuff such as the NHS, education, pensions, transport etc. – as all they seem to care about is Brexit At Any Cost?

  13. I came to La Linea to work in Gibraltar and so enjoyed the Spanish culture, friendliness and enthusiasm for life that once I retired I stayed here. The state pension I receive now only covers the rent of my house here and utility bills due to the plunge in the rate of the £. I wish to continue living in Spain and have no intention of returning to the UK but I may have to if my state pension is frozen and I no longer receive free healthcare and very low-cost prescriptions. If I am forced by circumstances to return to the UK I would have to claim every benefit available to me thereby becoming a drain on Society and the NHS.

  14. I am extremely worried about our future here. Once the U.K. Has left the EU, will we still have the right to reside here, will we still have our Spanish health cards under the S1 scheme, will we still get our pension increases like the rest of U.K. Pensioners?? We are not rich people, we had to sell our home in the U.K. to come here and could not afford private health care. We can’t go back even if we wanted to because the money we would get for our lovely home here wouldn’t even buy us a shoe box in the U.K. It would let us rent for a few years, but what then when all the money is gone? Through no fault of our own we are in a terrible catch 22 situation and no one is interested except to use us as bargaining chips.

  15. Non-Schengen residents lost some advantages in the last years, as well: among them reciprocity of drivers license; visa extensions to allow more than 90 days without leaving for 90 days. I now have a full residency visa, though I don’t know whether it will be renewed due to the craziness in EU politics. Can’t change it, so must adjust.

    • Your visa may also be affected due to crazy US politics too of course. Has there ever been more crazy politics in recent times than in the US over the last month? The EU does not like the Trump administration and even went as far as listing it alongside the likes of Russia as a risk to the EU.

      • Most Americans don’t like the current US president and congress either. The biggest risk to the EU is, of course, the EU bureaucracy, which few respect. Trump will get his just desserts somer than the next election. At least we have several means to get rid of him, unlike Europeans who are stuck with the apparatchiks in Brussels.

  16. Anxiously awaiting the decision of the House of Lords. I want to stay in the EU and want to live in Spain. It was good to see some Peers are against this Brexit nonsense yesterday and today.

  17. The 1.5 million or so 16 and 17 year olds in the UK didn’t get a vote on their own future. If freedom of movement is thrown away that generation will not be able to exercise the freedoms that we have been able to.

    On that basis alone Brexit is not the “will of the people” as claimed and the government has no mandate for the right wing hard Brexit they are currently taking the country on.

  18. Millions of people made life-changing decisions based on a set of rules that seemed would not be changed adversely, ever. They moved to other EU countries, bought homes, have jobs, pay tax, married, had children, have access to healthcare and state education for their children, and some retired receiving their pensions from the UK. Now the rules are to change in ways that have yet to be decided and in many cases those who will suffer the most loss from the changes have had no say as they were denied a vote. People are literally being stripped of their rights. Families worry about being separated, people fear losing their livelihoods, their pensions, their healthcare and even their homes. Yet some ‘leavers’ still say “get over it”! Just how cruel can people be, just how uncaring can they get? It is never fair to change the rules after the event, it is never acceptable to take away people established rights, it can never be right to turns millions of people’s lives upside-down and treat them as irrelevant bargaining chips.

  19. I sold my house in the Uk ten years ago and have forged out a new life for myself in Spain. I love living here. I want to stay here.Being in the EU gave me the Right to do so and I chose to expand my horizons and live my life to the fullest. Brexit will strip me of my Right to live and move freely within the EU. Brexit drs in the UK also need to take into account the Rights that improved their lives and which they have been afforded only as a direct result of being in the EU. Employment Rights covering maternity leave, annual leave, health and safety rights, Working Time Regulations, to name but a few!

  20. I am very worried for America with a president like Mr Trump. I am worried about the future of Europe with Brexit. It has saved Europe from being involved in another world war. For that reason alone I mourn the stupid people who believed the right wing press sensationlising immigration etc. I am terrified that my right to live in Spain, to be protected by European law, to know Europe is trying to fight inequality, prejudice, poverty and of course climate change will be lost. I want to be a European!

  21. It almost as if a few trolls have set up camp trying to discredit anyone who claims Brexit doesn’t mean Brexit. Well I for one say grew up to these people. Expats and many other nationalities in the UK. value are association and good relations with our EU neighbours irrespective of Project Fear invented by the British Tories to manage their own inadequacies at failure to manage the British economy. Then presenting a series of lies and fake promises to enlist the support of those that know no better, in order to win at all costs. To our EU friends please don’t judge the rest of the UK by what less than 50 percent of the population voted for and even worse what many in the U.K. were denied a right to vote on.

  22. Olive Press,

    I wanted to bring this to your readers attention as it may be something they would like to sign up to.
    “A European Passport could be the perfect solution for those threatened with the loss of EU Citizenship
    The Choose Freedom Campaign is a European Citizens’ Initiative that is the brainchild of Glyn Hughes, 57 year old Engineering Designer from Derbyshire.
    The aim of the campaign is to persuade the European Union to issue EU passports to any EU citizens that are at risk of losing their rights and freedoms, in this case, as a result of Brexit.

    You do not have to be a UK Citizen or a resident of Spain to take part!”



    • A fantastic initiative in my opinion. It seems to terrify Leave voters (cue the ‘it’s never going to happen’ comments) and my Kipper MEPs so it must have a good chance of success.

  23. Whist one can sympathise with expat concerns following the UK leaving the EU, why don’t you become a citizen in your country of residence rather than wanting to change the democratic decision of all UK citizens?
    Interestingly, the movement to demand that Foreign EU nationals are allowed to keep their current rights doesn’t necessarily mean the EU will do the same. By keeping this for negotiation is the best option for expats.

  24. Already signed up B, damn fine idea. But it is worth noting, because of some weird, impossible to understand ruling, residents of France and Portugal (among some others) will not have their votes for this move, recorded or taken into account. This is a ruling by these individual countries, not an EU decision. Go figure.

  25. Sadly many have made comments that are based upon presumptions not reality. From it’s inception born out of the European Coal and Steel Community, this organisation has changed it’s name from the EEC to the EU. It has increasingly taken all democratic decision making from it’s various peoples to almost secret committees – how come you did’nt notice this. Did you find it all boring and go to sleep in front of the TV?

    Some of you moved to another country with insufficient means should things change, that was not clever. All of you are of an age when unless you lived like a monk on an island without news media have seen a constantly changing world hav’nt you, so why did you think that change would’nt enter your lives. Then there was the totally inverted view that war had never touched their life, no not in Europe but did you miss Vietnam/Afghanistan/Central America and on and on or did’nt you really csare because it was’nt happening in your back yard, though I lost friends at Srebenica, was that irrelevent because you could’nt hear the sound of war – that was Europe.

    Really immature comments, nothing is forever, fancy thinking it was. What will happen in Romania or Hungary – nothiog to do with you – oh yes it is, whether you like it or not. The demonising of Le Pen is going ahead full steam. She will never win the second round because a lot of stupid lefties in the cities say they will back the con man Macron and if the hard line Catholic fanatic and Thatcher lover Fillon had’nt destroyed his chances, these dummies would have voted for him. Then there’s Wilders in the Netherlands. Then Greece, if this blows up before the critical elections in France, the Netherlands and Germany then the EU is on the way out but still you are bleating like sheep about Brexit. It’s time to take a look at the whole European situation, which none of tyhe bleaters seem to have done in a long time, if ever – the macro people, you need to look at the macro.

    • A lot of “ifs”, “woulds” and “would have” in your nonsensic comment.
      Nobody expect that YOU can understand it, but the Dutch, Germans, Greeks, French etc are not as dumb as the British.
      LePen, Wilders, etc have no chance of winning any election.
      And of course all those countries will remain in the EU

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