Press Release: 6 June, 2018

‘UK nationals living on the continent are still in a holding pattern with no clear landing path in sight.’ 

Jane Golding, Chair British in Europe 

Two years on from the Referendum, the 1.3mn UK nationals living in the EU 27 have no real clarity or certainty about whether they will be able to carry on with their lives as normal after Brexit.  That’s  the main message British in Europe campaigners will deliver to MPs when they give evidence in front  of the House of Commons Committee for Exiting the EU on 6th June.

Contrary to what the UK and EU have said, the withdrawal agreement that was agreed in December  and signed off by the EU Council in March does not offer adequate guarantees for British people  living on the continent, particularly in the areas of cross border working, future registration  requirements and political representation and voting rights.

Campaigners will highlight the following concerns:

  1.    Free movement is a lifeline not a luxury

At present, the withdrawal agreement only guarantees the right for Britons on the continent to live,  work and receive healthcare and pensions in their country of residence.  Free movement and its
associated rights of cross border working, study and pan-EU recognition of professional  qualifications are not included.

This matters because:

  • 80% of Brits in the EU 27 are working age or younger;
  • 58% of British in Europe members rely on free movement for their livelihoods and families  NOW.

Jane Golding, Chair of British in Europe said:

‘The draft withdrawal agreement doesn’t work for working people or their families as it doesn’t allow  them the mobility that they need in their daily lives.  Theresa May must ask her EU 27 counterparts to  include free movement in the withdrawal agreement now if she is serious about her commitment to  putting people at the heart of the Brexit negotiations.  To date we have seen more energy spent on  discussing the post-Brexit movement rights of jam than we have of people.  This needs to change’. 

  1.   The UK needs to step up the political pressure on the EU 27 over its post-Brexit registration  plans for Brits in their countries

Due to the UK’s insistence on the creation of new ‘settled status’ that will require EU citizens to  reapply for their rights the UK, this option has also been available to the EU 27 since December.

The requirement for UK citizens in the EU to establish all over again their rights to live in their homes  is a major source of worry, particularly for the elderly, self-employed people, those on low incomes  or welfare benefits and carers.

Fiona Godfrey, Deputy Chair of British in Europe said: 

‘The current registration systems across the EU27 are largely working well but the UK government has negotiated us into a settled status situation at the last minute.  It has been planning for settled  status for the three million EU citizens for nearly a year. Yet, with less than 8 months to go before  Brexit we don’t even know which countries are intending to impose settled status on us, how or when’. 

Registration is a particular source of concern in France where, hitherto, there has been no  requirement to register, meaning many or most UK nationals living there don’t have experience of  being in contact with officials about their residence status.

At present, there are only five Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) staff providing consular  advice and support for affected Brits across the entire EU 27.  This is clearly inadequate and the FCO  needs to be given more resources to deal with it.

Kalba Meadows, Coordinator of Remain in France Together said:  

‘If British people living in France are required to reapply for the legal right to remain without any  existing central register of British people in France, this will rely on Brits understanding the system, knowing that they have to apply and being aware how to do it.  At the moment we are  spending our evenings and weekends fielding complex questions from UK nationals living in France  and other countries who don’t know which way to turn or where to get help. The UK Government  must provide more practical guidance –- as well as consular, financial and legal support to help 
British citizens in the EU 27 carry on their lives as before Brexit’.    

  1.    Brits in Spain will have no political voice after Brexit

Around 300,000 Britons live in Spain, a country which does not allow for dual nationality for most  non-Spaniards.

Renouncing their British citizenship would be a last resort and would also force them to re-enter the  UK as third country nationals in a hostile immigration environment if they ever needed to return to  look after elderly or sick relatives.

Furthermore, as of 2019, those who have been out of the UK for more than 15 years will lose all  political rights as they will no longer be able to vote in local elections in Spain.   

Michael Harris, Chair of EuroCitizens said: 

‘As things stand, overnight, 300,000 Britons in Spain will be disenfranchised and with no obvious  solution due to no dual nationality. From being full European citizens, we will become serfs.’ 



For more information or to arrange an interview with a spokesperson please contact:
Laura Shields

+ 32 (0) 497 409 884 

British in Europe is the largest coalition group of British citizens living and working in Europe.  It is  comprised of ten core groups across the continent representing a membership of around 35.000  Brits working together to stand up for the rights of UK citizens in the EU and EU citizens in the UK.

Download the pdf here:



Photo: © lonndubh /

7 thoughts on “Press Release: 6 June, 2018”

  1. Pretty fair summary …

    One quibble

    You state ‘Furthermore, as of 2019, those who have been out of the UK for more than 15 years will lose all political rights as they will no longer be able to vote in local elections in Spain. ‘

    That’s not just Spain – all long-term British expats will be disenfranchised.

    1. We agree it is an issue for us all, it was just that that was a quote from Michael specifically about Spain.

  2. What about those of us who live in the UK but travel and/or work extensively in Europe, what about our free movement rights?

    1. We are only able to lobby for the rights of British in Europe. There are many groups lobbying for UKinUK and we would support your right to maintain your free movement too.

  3. You are doing a sterling job, and I for one am totally grateful that SOMEONE is looking out for us, especially those of us in France, who as you say, have not had any reason to register their presence. Now we are faced with endless bureaucracy, as only the French know how.
    I am told on a very helpful forum, that even just to apply for a residency Carte de Sejour, you have to have the – to me, humiliating experience – of having your fingerprints taken, and probably a criminal records check….. just to stay where you are, when all you did was exercise a European right to move to a different country, in my case to be able to live a decent life on a meagre UK state retirement pension, which although has been promised to keep up with annual inflation increases- who knows what this nastiest of govts will do in the future? We have already lost approx 20-30% from exchange rate depletion.
    And now we begin to lose the will to live….

    1. Thank you – we are fighting to minimise the registration issues but yes, in France, it is wise to apply for a carte – my appointment is booked and just waiting for it to come around…

  4. Lot of old pensioners in ireland, paid tax and worked in England preretirement. So,paid nhs health care fees there and want all those rights transferred as we have to sign as not worked and no health care paid – it’s not true.
    Pension comes over and most doing voluntary work and well settled for some years now.
    So now what, last few years as citizens of nowhere?

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