With such continuous uncertainty surrounding Brexit, it has left many wanting to move to Europe in limbo and fearful to make any firm decisions.
The situation does remain unclear and there are no guarantees Brexit will happen before 31st October 2019.
What are individuals to do if they intend to move to a European country? Take a risk and hope it will all turn out OK? As the potential implications of such a choice are so significant, for many this is likely to halt any European relocation plans.
However, for those willing to take a leap of faith, does moving to particular EU countries carry less risk than others? Will there be any visa free countries for UK citizens after Brexit?
Reducing the risk
Whilst there are no risk-free options, there are some countries where preliminary agreements have been discussed and, in some cases, have even been ratified. Such agreements would protect British citizens already residing in those counties. Might these countries be a safer choice?
They certainly appear to be, but unless an individual is classed as a permanent resident – residing for a continuous 5-year period – they may not be covered under such agreements in the event of a no deal Brexit.
Possible increased risk
Among European countries, based on the state of negotiations so far it can be hypothesised that some countries may carry a greater risk if individuals were to move before the Brexit deadline.
This is mainly since they have yet to put in place any contingency plans in the case of a no deal scenario. These countries include – Croatia, Hungary, Belgium, Austria, Italy, Slovenia, Poland, Romania and Bulgaria.
The fact that other EU countries have been more forthcoming does offer more confidence, therefore, such hesitancy seems to elevate the risk.
Potentially less-risky countries
When compared with the above more high-risk options, the following European countries may well be a safer option for those intending to move to Europe before Brexit.
Although not in the EU, the country accepts freedom of movement and is the only country in Europe to have an agreement in place with the UK which secures the rights of British citizens in the event of a no deal scenario.
This agreement would apply to those already living in Switzerland and those who move during the transition period. There are some specific restrictions though, namely a cap on the number of residence and short stay permits the country would issue British citizens looking to move prior to 31st December 2019.
Out of all the EU countries with provisional arrangements with the UK, Portugal is among the least populated by British expats. Therefore, there might potentially be more residency opportunities than perhaps other more popular EU expat destinations. Moreover, unlike few other EU countries, Portugal are offering the same work and residency rights as the UK.
Portuguese officials continue to pledge their allegiance to the UK and insisted that British nationals are welcome in Portugal for work, study, holidays and residency. Portugal’s foreign minister Augusto Santos Silva was quoted to have said that Portugal will remain open regardless of Brexit outcomes.
Perhaps moving to Portugal after Brexit may also be on the table as they appear to be quite welcoming and flexible to us Brits…only time will tell on that one.
Until there is certainty, it is advisable to exercise healthy caution on any life changing decisions. In reality, the only completely safe option is to stay put, but if you have contingency plans in place to return to the UK if things don’t work out, you may be able to afford more risk.
Ultimately, it does come down to personal choice and individual circumstances.