Theresa May penned the letter, titled “Prime Minister Theresa May’s message to UK nationals living in Europe”, on December 19. In it, May confirmed that one of her priorities had always been to secure the status of Brits living abroad in Europe, noting that the referendum result had “caused considerable anxiety” for many British families.
May added that she was “delighted to announce” that the conclusion of the first phase of the negotiations with the EU has agreed on reciprocal statutes that mean British citizens living in Spain, Germany, Italy, France etc., will be able to continue receiving the same healthcare rights and pension and benefits provision as they do currently.
Existing rules for past and future social security contributions will also remain unaffected.
“Furthermore”, the letter went on, “we have agreed that close family members will be able to join you in the Member State where you live, after the UK has left the EU. This includes existing spouses and civil partners, unmarried partners, children, dependent parents and grandparents, as well as children born or adopted outside of the UK after March 29 2019.”
There does, however, remain uncertainty as to the employment status of Brits looking to move to the EU for work. Those that currently hold down a job in the EU will be unaffected, and the hope is that the second round of negotiations can secure an agreement on ensuring freedom to work remains largely unaffected.
Another unclear point is whether Brits who currently reside in one EU country will continue to see their rights recognised if they move to another EU country. For example, if a retired British couple living in France decides to sell up and move to Spain, will their pensions and healthcare provisions continue to be taken care of?
“We raised these concerns,” writes May, “but the EU was not ready to discuss them in this phase of the negotiations”.