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BREXIT… what does this really mean?

BREXIT… what does this really mean?


UK Prime Minister David Cameron has announced a referendum to be held on 23 June 2016 on whether or not Britain should remain in the European Union. If the referendum result is for the UK to remain in the EU (an “in” or “remain” vote) then the current situation remains (subject to the various changes negotiated by the UK government with the EU in February 2016). But if the referendum result is for the UK to leave the EU (an “out” or “leave” vote, commonly referred to as “Brexit”), what happens? How will it affect me as a British expat living in Italy? Can I vote?

To read the full version of this article, please click HERE. The full article covers the following questions:

How would the withdrawal process work?
If the Referendum result is in favour of Brexit, the UK would start a two year withdrawal process by invoking Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union. During this two year timeframe, the UK would unravel the huge range of budgetary, legal, political and other obligations that currently exist between the EU and the UK, and negotiate the future arrangement that the UK would have with the EU going forwards. UK legislation would need to be passed to make necessary amendments to UK law, starting with the repeal of the provisions of the European Communities Act 1972.  [full …]

So what relationship will the UK have with the EU following Brexit?
There is no comparable example of a country leaving the EU and the UK government has not given any public indication of the nature of the post-withdrawal relationship that the UK might seek to have with the EU. There are a number of possible opt-out alternatives for the UK following Brexit, including European Economic Area (“EEA”) membership; an EU relationship based on the current Swiss model; a “Customs union” relationship with the EU based on the current Turkish model; a Free Trade Agreement with the EU; World Trade Organisation membership; and a hybrid of the all or some of the above.  [full …]

So what relationship will the UK have with non-EU countries following Brexit?
As well as negotiating a new relationship with the EU, in the event of withdrawal, the UK would simultaneously need to put in place trade arrangements with other countries with whom it currently deals on EU negotiated terms. Since the EU has exclusive competence in the area of trade policy, the EU’s existing trade agreements with third countries are entered into by the EU as a block rather than by the individual Member State, and so the UK would not (unless otherwise agreed) continue to participate in them on withdrawing from the EU.  [full …]

How would Brexit affect my business?
Businesses would need to consider their own private contractual or other arrangements to ensure that they still operate as intended in the changed circumstances, or whether they need to take steps to change anything as a result of the different political climate and any consequential commercial impacts on their affairs. Businesses and individuals who are affected by the UK’s membership of the EU would need to consider the implications of uncertainty and potential change on their operations and strategy. Key issues include.  [full …]

What about my right to receive Italian healthcare?
Although it is possible that UK expats could be barred from Italian healthcare and benefits, it seems unlikely, not least given that it would open the door to retaliatory measures from the UK which hosts a massive number of Italian expats (there are an estimated 500,000 Italians, and as many as 3 million EU nationals, living in Britain).  British expats can also claim to pay their own way in Europe as the UK paid GB£674 million in 2014-2015 to other European countries for the treatment of UK nationals, yet the UK received just GB£49 million from other European nations in the same year to treat those from other countries residing in the UK.  [full …]

Could I be deported from Italy?
There are numerous political reasons for EU states not to start deporting UK citizens, including the reciprocal treatment of their own nationals living in the UK (around 3 million EU citizens). Mass expulsions of UK citizens from Italy would be likely to cause foreign investment in Italy to halt overnight and potentially cause economic turmoil in Italy. Lawyers have argued that British expats living in the EU at the time of Brexit would have individual “acquired rights” under the Vienna Convention of 1969, which states that the termination of a treaty does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination.  [full …]

What about my Italian property?
The EU is a signatory to the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights, so Italy would still have to respect individual property rights following Brexit. However, Italy could take a variety of measures, depending on how vindictive it feels towards Britain post-Brexit, like making UK homeowners pay more in property tax. However, it is unlikely that Italy would jeopardise the rights of the nearly 500,000 Italian citizens living in the UK the majority of whom own property in the UK.  [full …]

Can I vote?
Yes you can vote, and you should vote! The Referendum result affects you and your fellow 66,000 UK citizens currently living and working in Italy. If you are not yet registered to vote then you can register online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote. If you have been living outside the UK for more than 15 years, you have lost your right to vote. The Conservative Party made a manifesto pledge to change this rule so that all UK citizens will be able to vote irrespective of how long they have lived abroad, but the “Votes for Life” Bill has not yet been passed by Parliament.  [full …]

Article by Martin Pugsley

To read the full version of this article, please click HERE.


Martin PugsleyMartin Pugsley has lived and worked in Italy for more than 15 years (and has lost his right to vote!). He is a Partner at law firm Studio Legale Delfino e Associati WillkieFarr & Gallagher LLPin Milan where he works on cross-border corporate finance matters. He is also Vice Presidentof the British Chamber of Commerce in Italy, and the co-founder of an Italian charity, Comitato Fiori di Lavanda Onlus, for research into childhood leukaemia.


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Easy Milano is the online publication for the international community of Milan. We offer practical tips, key information and essential insights about living and working in Italy. Easy Milano has been assisting English speaking expats in Milan since 1999.
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