Brits in Portugal ‘in limbo’
At the beginning of this month, the UK press gave extensive coverage to the plight of British citizens in Portugal, effectively left in limbo as an ongoing consequence of Brexit. The Portuguese authorities have not yet issued residency cards to many Brits in the country, leaving them unable to travel outside Portugal, access healthcare, or change jobs.
It’s estimated that around 35,000 Brits are affected, with some being detained at airports or having to pay for urgent medical treatment for conditions such as broken bones. Those who are cross-border workers – for example, airline pilots – are finding their jobs are at risk. Instead of the promised biometric card, they have been issued with a temporary card and a QR code which, they report, is not recognised at borders. A number have told the press that they feel like ‘illegal immigrants.’ One British-South African couple related to the Guardian how they had been detained at Frankfurt airport and actually charged with a criminal breach of immigration law because they didn’t have documents that the EU recognised. They were obliged to buy new tickets via London as they were told that they risked arrest if they returned via Germany.
Leader of the British in Portugal campaign group, Tig James, blames the Portuguese border force and told the Guardian:
“SEF is wilfully, deliberately and systemically not adhering to the withdrawal agreement, resulting in the physical, emotional and financial suffering of thousands of UK nationals living in Portugal.”
The UK government says that they are engaged at a ministerial level and are urging the Portuguese authorities to produce the biometric cards as a matter of urgency.
“Portugal must immediately and fully implement the withdrawal agreement commitments it signed up to in 2018 so UK nationals have the security they need.”
SEF have issued a statement, which says:
“The current residence documents of British nationals living in Portugal continue to be accepted, even after the end of the transition period (31 December 2020), and until the new residence card is issued.
The exchange of the current residence document (either an EU registration certificate issued by the town hall, or an EU permanent residence certificate issued by SEF) was carried out through the Brexit portal (brexit.sef.pt), which allowed British nationals to apply online to exchange the document.
Until then, the certificate with the QR code, that can be downloaded from the portal, continues to be an official residency document for those under the withdrawal agreement. It is valid until the new card is issued. Furthermore, valid EU residency documents continue to be accepted for travel purposes, until the new card is issued.”
However, since this has clearly not been the case, the UK is continuing to urge the Portuguese authorities to sort out this difficult situation.
Rethinking a move to Luxembourg?
The recent InterNations Expat Insider survey revealed the little European nation to be the most expensive country in Europe for expats, with a quarter of Luxembourg’s overseas nationals saying that the cost of living is ‘out of reach.’ Respondents gave it the lowest possible rating for affordability, and 30% said that they do not now earn enough to live a comfortable life. A survey conducted by the EU commission says that the cost of living and the cost of accommodation are primary concerns. Britain came second in the survey, and Ireland came third.
Spain’s driving licence saga rolls on
The saga of when Brits resident in Spain will be able to exchange their driving licences for a Spanish one continues to rumble on, but there might be a glimmer of light at the end of this particular tunnel. A deal was supposed to have been struck at the end of July, but at the time of writing we are well into August, and nothing has happened. However, the authorities are now talking about September, which if it comes to pass will be a substantial relief to those Brits who were unable to exchange their driving licences in time and who are now at risk of driving illegally.
Minister Karl McCartney, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department for Transport, has issued a statement which says:
“The UK Government has engaged in these negotiations in good faith and ensured that Spanish drivers in the UK have, as always, encountered no limitations nor inconvenience in their ability to drive.
We have similar arrangements in place with 24 other EU Member States already, but negotiations with Spain have been made more complicated on account of Spain requiring additional elements which no one else has asked for in relation to driving licence exchange arrangements. Nonetheless, we are working hard to finalise negotiations with the Spanish Government.”
However, Mr McCartney has not given any indication as to when a settlement will be reached, so those affected by this concerning situation may well feel that the statement is no more than a placeholder.
The European Talent Intelligence Manual 2022
Rotterdam’s market research firm Intelligence Group has recently compiled the European Talent Intelligence Manual for 2022, canvassing over 100,000 Europeans to assess the most popular cities in Europe for professionals. It includes some 600 cities, with London coming in at the top spot. For working environments, the English capital led a top ten list of cities, consisting of:
- New York
The Manual covers a wide variety of factors, from recruitment among the over 50s, to the prevalence of using window advertisements to advertise jobs. It looks at commutes and the issue of flexible working hours – something which students say is a priority when it comes to finding work once they graduate.
Spain’s migration numbers at their highest
Expats are still moving to Spain, but at the same time, more Spanish people are choosing to emigrate. Over 750,000 people are coming into Spain, while around 300,000 Spaniards are leaving. Numbers peaked around 2013, when roughly 450,000 people left the country, but they are rising once more.