Representatives of UK nationals who are uncertain as to what to do with their expat regular savings assets have called on MPs to take urgent action so that they do not have to go through a period of extended limbo while waiting for Brexit negotiations to be finalised.
The list of concerns is becoming increasingly longer, particularly now that Prime Minister Theresa May has indicated that she may pursue a hard Brexit, with pension uprating, healthcare and expat regular savings at the forefront of the issues currently challenging British expats living in the European Union.
There is a compelling need for clarity for expats. For example, before the UK entered the EU and subsequently become subject to EU free movement rules, allowing UK citizens to move freely between and reside in any EU country of choice, it was signatory to a number of deals with European countries that have now been superseded – for example, there was an agreement with France that ensured reciprocity over social security payments to expats. While some commentators have wondered whether such agreements might again become active in the event of Brexit – others feel that this is a case of wishful thinking.
Whatever the situation, UK lawmakers do have the power to positively influence the situation of expats and they should do so as soon as possible. For example, there is nothing to stop both sides of parliament from moving to trigger Article 50 and urging EU states to ensure reciprocity regarding the rights of expats. Doing so would put an end to the limbo currently being experienced by many and would quiet any troubling suggestions that expats might become political pawns in some of the more Machiavellian negotiations inherent in the Brexit process.
Such decisiveness would also give expats more confidence over what they might do with their pensions. Whereas some might currently be tempted to make an urgent QROPS transfer, if they could have guarantees regarding the future of their pensions they might be tempted to keep them in their existing schemes and perhaps make a decision at a later date.