I was on France 3 TV the night before the Brexit vote. The main point I raise for British expats living and working in Europe is that without the four freedoms afforded by membership of the EU – most of us are going to be righteously stuffed if we attempt to carry on our lives abroad. Taking French nationality, I propose, may be the only solution.
In case you’re wondering what these four basic rights are:
- The free movement of goods.
- The free movement of services and freedom of establishment.
- The free movement of persons (and citizenship), including free movement of workers.
- The free movement of capital.
At the moment the UKippers and Leavers are pretending that the UK can simply do away with half of number 2 and all of number 3 and carry on as before – reducing it down to two-and-a-half freedoms. Aside from it sounding less snappy – the implications are massive, and arguably all negative in their outlook.
At the moment the EU are saying they won’t be nasty about the settlement for the UK’s withdrawal – however the chances are that is exactly what they will be. If the UK does, by some miracle negotiate to do away with 1.5 freedoms the EU nations are likely to reciprocate the situation with expats based in the EU. That means your right to permanently reside, study or work in France will be withdrawn unless you take citizenship, however without (3) any application for citizenship could be rejected.
This would effectively force all UK citizens in the EU to return back to a nation in the process of imploding (and failing to turn itself into a “Switzerland with nukes”.)
The only solution therefore is to apply for citizenship NOW – when the EU’s rules of freedom still apply – and then apply for dual nationality AFTER the UK has left the community. Right now this might seem like extreme measures – however if you have built up a life outside the UK and do not wish to see it destroyed by the UK’s isolationism then this is really the only way to protect yourself from the fallout.
The good news is that if you’ve been living in France for more than five years and have made an effort to integrate (you speak French and have French friends – are a member of a French association etc.) then the process should be reasonably straightforward. (See here for more info)
If on the other hand you’ve become a shameless expat – only speaking English and socialising with Anglophones – then it’s time to start integrating! Tout de suite!