Expats have nothing to fear from Brexit

Neutralising the fear, uncertainty and doubt of the Remain campaign

Two million UK citizens working abroad could become illegal immigrants overnight if Britain were to leave the European Union according to remain fear mongers playing fast and loose with the facts . This is one of the more flimsy and morally objectionable deceits given that it is designed to disseminate anxiety amongst the expat community and in many cases this myth is proliferated by people who should, and probably do, know better.

The status of treaty rights acquired while a treaty is in force, when that treaty comes to an end, was dealt with in a 2013 Parliamentary briefing, and is covered in much more detail by UN lawyers. A clarification has even been issued via a House of Commons Library note, which stated:

“Generally speaking, withdrawing from a treaty releases the parties from any future obligations to each other, but does not affect any rights or obligations acquired under it before withdrawal.”

The (1969) Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties is clear, in article 70.1.b it states that a 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.”

To summarise, “acquired rights” – also known as “executed rights” or “vested rights” – do continue to apply to individuals. So firm are they embedded in the international order that they have acquired the status of “customary law”, which means the principle does not need to be anchored by any particularly treaty, but stands alone as a fundamental principle of international law.

Thus, should it come to the UK leaving the EU, those persons who currently live in other EU member states, invoking the right to remain under the “freedom of movement” or “freedom of establishment” provisions of the treaties, will be able to retain that “acquired right”. There may be some details around the margins that have to be settled which will make up part of secession negotiations, in both informal talks that begin in the aftermath of a vote to leave, and formal talks that begin after our Article 50 notification.

The issue is settled. Spreading fear amongst expats is now the reserve of barrel scraping social media campaigners, with even Europhile think tank British Influence conceding the lack of credibility to this argument:

“General principles of EU law concerning legitimacy and legal certainty as laid down in the Treaty of Lisbon presuppose that the UK and the EU would be required, or at least strongly recommended by civil servants, diplomats and government lawyers, to agree on the protection of acquired rights…”

The report concludes that it is likely a transitional agreement will be achieved, but even if one did not materialise, or if the transitional agreement had problematic “gaps”, acquired rights are covered my international law:

“International law should be sufficient to protect acquired rights. For example, under the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties, while parties to a treaty can be released from future obligations by withdrawing from the agreement, rights and obligations acquired under the same treaty are not affected”.

Stop lying to expats. They have nothing to fear from Brexit.

indeed I was just pointing out there are "uncertainties" on both sides of the argument

Quite right John but many on here and elsewhere have raised the point that a 'no' vote would be a step into the unknown with the uncertainties which may follow. Sometimes maybe it's better to stick with 'the devil you know' ?

or given the financial state of Greece and Italy and the German banks stuffed with non performing loans the Euro could collapse ..The point is no one knows, but dont think voting to remain is voting for the status quo..

More than a few flaws here! Many of us have pensions paid in £ sterling, and a Brexit is going to push the value of the pound down heavily. (Think about it). Anything bought from the UK will be more expensive (if paid in euros), ditto travel there.

Jim, I can't see how being 'In' or 'Out' will change much regarding ISIL etc. Governments will still work together to fight this and other evils. I think Cameron has aleady stated the UK would not be a part of a 'European Army' so any partnerships in future military campaigns will be sorted just as present I suppose.Last week the French government were 'embarassed' when news of their military presence in Libya was revealed. The US are there also and maybe te UK also, who knows ?

French family & friends have mixed ideas, just like the Brits. Some are totally apathetic and others vehemently for or against. Sorry to be vague but the whole topic is vague. My partner is convinced an Exit would mean cutting off from the EU and increased activities with the US.

It would not surprise me in the slightest if a French politician did like Cameron and used the EU vote strategy as a vote winner in an election. Many French are disillusioned with the EU (believe it or not !) and the threat/promise of a referendum would steal load of floating votes.

No need for sorrow David! we all have a view and some have a perverse view of what others think. It is tough! May I add if you cannot say something nice say nothing at all, unless it it followed by an apology.

Well Peter, seems I was really off the mark, sorry about that. As someone who is Anglo-French you must have had the conversation with French friends, what do they think about the opportunity that the UK have with this referendum?

In reality I am constantly changing my mind on which would be better. I doubt things will change for me personally whichever way it goes. Maybe I just hanker after the way things were? and dread the Muslim Tidal wave, which I worry has not peaked by a long way yet.

Jim I do really feel very sorry to see you have such a perverse view of the world and Europe. Must be tough.

Oh dear Jim, way off the mark there mate.

Apart from my first few years swanning around the world in the MN the rest was purely blue collar. I've always had to graft for my dosh unfortunately with no hand-outs or security from government salaries.

Two months into French retirement but still four years until UK pensions kick in except for the MN pension which started last year. I'm still working bits 'n bobs and paying UK taxes to keep things ticking over.

"Typically replying, without actually saying anything with any conviction?" Nobody knows what will happen Jim. The UK has never been in this situation before because 'exiting' is a leap into the unknown. If the UK leaves then the country will carry on just as before except the 'mechanics' of UK and EU ties will change. I'm Anglo-French and split down the middle nationally so I wouldn't know which way to vote if I had the opportunity. It seems very confusing with all the claims and counter claims and accusations.

From your reply, I can guess you were in locaL Government before you retired?

Typically replying, without actually saying anything with any conviction?

The Argentinians were not 'enemies' with France. They can sell arms & ammo to whoever they wish, just like the UK sells to whoever they wish ie Iraq when Saddam was flavour of the month et al. The arms business has very little scruples..

Maybe it was better when GB was independant I really don't know. If the UK remains then life will go on and if it leaves then life will go on. If one market closes then another will open. Whatever happens the EU and the UK will adapt and survive.

Because the Germans and French think and act like they own Europe, and have been milking money from the UK as though we are some sort of 'cash cow'. If you remember recently the EU basically fined the UK for 'doing so well' since the 'crash' and then David Cameron played hardball with them and was able to delay payment by about a month (big deal!!!)

As for the bailing out of the fisheries, that would not have been needed if the EU hadn't declared that the UK waters were fair game to the Spanish and Portuguese, who have managed to strip the British waters bare.

It was so much better when Britain was Great Britain and not under the thumb of the Eurocrats of Brussels.

One could tell who's side Europe was on during the Falkland war, The French were happy to supply Exocet missiles to 'the enemy'

Hi Jim, why have the Brits become 'second class europeans for around fifty years' ? Yes, the UK has paid into the system handsomely for decades but it's also had it's fair share of EU handouts. Just one example because it affected my family was the virtual bailing out of the UK fisheries in the '80s. The EU money saved thouands of jobs, especially in Scotland.

I am looking forward to brexit even though I own a house in the UK and one in France. We (Brits) have been second class europeans for around fifty years since joining the EU. I am absolutely certain that trade with Europe will continue, just take a couple of examples, Lidl and Aldi, will they leave the UK because they will be stopped from selling their products? EDF will they stop trading in the UK? BMW, now they might leave the UK and set up in 'East' Germany, but they basically set out to ruin the UK car building business and then buy it up cheaply, who said that Britain won the war????

As a property owner in France, will I be treated any differently from an American, or Australian property owner? I doubt it very much.

The ONLY problem is the politicians all of which seem to want more and more bureaucracy, which suits them all just fine as it is what puts money in their pockets and power in their mostly stupid egos.

No, not quite. The French in the UK have no reason to fear anything. However, since France is not a state party to the Vienna Convention in theory they are. What France is going to want, the UK as well come to that, remains to be seen in the event of Brexit. That French ministers have expressed a view that they do not know what will happen and certainly nobody in the UK has said what will happen, merely what might happen is the basis of absolutely nothing at this point in time. You based an entire argument on what does and not happen under the terms of the Vienna Convention, clearly unaware that this topic has been much discussed already and that there is no clarity, exactly because France is not a state party. To allege people are being lied to is absolutely not true, therefore you should retract that accusation. Leave it at that.

but Uk is so as a UK citizen you have acquired rights . Given the number of French citizens living in the Uk this is something that would be negotiated under article 51.. France is hardly going to want an influx of 450,000 unemployed ejected from the Uk...

There is one very big flaw in this. France is not a state party to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties. It has no collective signature, accession or ratification by the EU, therefore legally France remains entirely outside its jurisdiction. Despite the claims of people opposed to the EU, national law does take precedence before EU law. The French politicians expressing possible problems for migrants to France must be aware of that, at least briefed by their civil servants. So, nobody is lying to UK migrants in France, thus yes there are possibilities that they have something to fear from Brexit.