EU referendum

Dear Editor,

I am writing to find out if the Algarve Resident is going to do a piece on the forthcoming referendum on the EU, as it could have a massive impact on the UK residents in the Algarve and elsewhere in Europe.

I would like to draw your attention to the following:

▪ withdrawing from EU membership so as to remove EU migrants from the UK would thereby also force British ex-pats to return to the UK as they would also lose their automatic right of residency

▪ the number of EU migrants in the UK is roughly equivalent to the number of British ex-pats living in the EU (according to information I can find on the internet)

▪ EU migrants in the UK are, in the main, of working age and have families with children, whereas British ex-pats living in the EU are mainly of retirement age – this means that an exchange would result in fewer workers

▪ retired British ex-pats are less likely to be able to afford British house prices and are more likely to need additional benefits in order to survive due to cost of living differentials

▪ withdrawal from the EU may mean that future travel to some EU countries will require a visa, thereby affecting travel to the EU on holiday and business

▪ If the UK is no longer a member of the EU then the automatic right is withdrawn and each person would have to re-apply for residency, which they can only do so from their home country, not within Portugal (the criteria are much stricter than for EU residents).

Obviously we don’t know whether those of us with existing 10 year “permanent” residency permits will be allowed to keep them until they expire, or whether they would be withdrawn. There are a lot of ‘what ifs’! This is why, when I am now in a position to move house and buy a new larger home in Portugal, I shall not be doing so until I know the outcome of the referendum. Otherwise what is now my main residence may, per force, become only a holiday home.

I have already contacted AFPOP (of whom I am a member) but have been told they are not a campaigning organisation.
Elizabeth Devery, by email

Editor’s reply: Absolutely, but AFPOP did put us on to a reputable wealth management and investment source who was extremely helpful – though he did say, like everyone else we have spoken with, that it is far too early for there to be any clear-cut answers. Until we know the wording of the referendum, or indeed the guarantees secured ahead of time by British Prime Minister David Cameron, no one can forecast anything.
However, our source did say that it is unthinkable to expect a scenario where expat Brits are forced to return to UK. It would be just as unthinkable to imagine settled EU nationals resident in UK would be forced to leave their jobs/homes and in many cases families. This simply would not happen. There are apparently three possible scenarios, of which two are less radical than the much touted Brexit, and already used by Norway and Switzerland.
Norway’s ‘deal’, being dubbed a European Economic Area (EEA), allows for free movement of labour, whereas Switzerland has a free trade agreement (EFTA).
Bearing in mind the UK’s wealth and importance, it would win just as much if not more as Norway and Switzerland, and, according to our source, it has “enormous bargaining power”.
In short, the EU needs Britain.
As to your concerns over buying property, we were told ‘Buy now! Prices will only get more expensive’.
I hope that answers your questions.