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The case for leaving EU


Currently, Brits are free to live and work in most EU countries as well as own property. What happens next?

As the potential Brexit continues to open many a debate, according to leading overseas property experts A Place in the Sun, property owners across the EU have begun to raise their concerns over what this could mean for them.

Currently, 2.2 million Brits live within the EU, outside of the UK, with a further 1 million owning a holiday home, all of whom could be directly affected by an exit from the EU. Experts say that currently there are no straightforward answers to many of the questions.

Nigel Lewis, property journalist from A Place in the Sun says: “At the moment, Brits are free to live and work in most EU countries as well as own property. They do so as citizens of an EU member state and are free to come and go as they wish except for usually cursory passport controls. But how fundamentally will all this change if the UK leaves the EU? The straightforward answer is that if the UK did leave, in theory Brits would be treated as non-EU citizens and therefore differently when they visited holiday homes or wanted to live (or continue living) within an EU country.

“There is a great difference between what’s theory and reality. Those urging an exit say bilateral agreements either with the EU or individual countries would be struck to help establish a working system for UK expats and holiday home owners. Opponents say the EU’s strict immigration rules would make this difficult or impossible.”

Based on the current rules, if Britain votes to exit the EU what would be the impact to property owners?

Nigel Lewis continues: “Permanent Residents: Anyone who has lived in an EU state for more than five years can apply for long-term resident status under EU law. But your status would be more restricted than your current one as an EU citizen, and there may be ‘integration rules’ for long term residency – such as being able to speak your host nation’s language.

“Holiday Home Owners: The EU could require UK citizens to apply for a visa in order to visit a country within the EU, which for holiday home owners would mean more intrusive questions about how long you were going to stay, your income and health cover.

“Property Ownership; UK citizens are likely to remain free to own property within the EU, as any other nationality is. For example, in France many US citizens own property there without any restrictions. The main area of contention is here is how property inheritance and taxation laws would apply; at the moment the rules treat EU and non-EU citizens differently.”

If Britain decides against leaving the EU, with Mr. Cameron’s suggested negotiations surrounding our membership, it is unlikely to affect buying a first or second home in the EU.

Anyone who has questions or concerns about their rights for a current property, or a future purchase are encouraged to visit A Place in the Sun Live, held between 11-13 March 2016 at Manchester Central, or 6-8 May at London Olympia, where experts will be on hand to answer any questions and provide impartial advice. We would also be pleased to hear from you here at ExpatsRadio with your concerns or comments. Just click the link at the top of any page of our website www.expatsradio.com


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