Expat Focus International News Update July 2022

EU’s top court tells Brits ‘you’ve lost your rights’

The EU Court of Justice ruled in June that British nationals resident in one of the EU’s 27 member states “no longer enjoy the status of citizen of the Union,” Bloomberg reports. As third party nationals, they can no longer vote or stand in municipal elections. The Luxembourg-based court said, “This is an automatic consequence of the sole sovereign decision taken by the United Kingdom to withdraw from the European Union.”

Brits ‘falsify’ residency documents

Meanwhile, in Tenerife, four Brits are under investigation for faking residency documents to claim EU residency. The Canarian Weekly reported that “Under the name of ‘Operation Malvinas’, investigators were alerted by the Immigration Office in Santa Cruz to the possible existence of fraud in some of the residence applications they had received. After carrying out the necessary procedures, the agents detected at least four requests that had been made through false documents of British citizens residing in the south of Tenerife.”

One person has been arrested; the others are abroad. All of the accused are said to have lied about the length of their stay on the island, and the Daily Express reports that the documents were used in claims that the applicants’ registrations at local town halls (padrón) were done prior to Brexit.

Fraudulent residency applications have been made before, resulting in a warning from the British Embassy last year that the Spanish authorities “are particularly on the alert for forged healthcare insurance, padrón certificates and lease contracts, as well as people falsely claiming student status.”

Latest ECA report on the world’s most expensive cities

Data firm ECA has published, in June, its latest report on the world’s costliest cities. It may not surprise anyone that Hong Kong appears top of the rankings, closely followed by New York and Geneva, with London coming in fourth. Tokyo, Tel Aviv, Zurich, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Seoul make up the rest of the top ten. All three of the top European locations have retained their places. Russian cities such as Moscow are still stable despite sanctions, but the weakness of the rouble is playing a part.

Tokyo is currently below London, due to the relative weakness of the yen, but is still at its highest rate of inflation in 30 years. London has seen a 20% increase in rents, with New York seeing a 12% increase in rents, allowing it to overtake Geneva.

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Tel Aviv has increased in the rankings due to the attractiveness of its tech sector and the growth of exports. Israel now has one of the strongest global currencies.

Shanghai is now the third most expensive city in Asia, coming in at eighth on the overall ranking. But Singapore’s ranking did not change, despite major price hikes. Four Chinese cities are now in the top 15 most expensive cities across the world.

Petrol prices have driven up costs across the world, partly a consequence of the war in Ukraine, with Beirut winning this unwelcome contest: a 1128% hike in petrol costs. Hong Kong is seeing rises which beat London’s: £2.26 per litre at the time the report came out, but UK prices have been inching towards that level since, with the £2 mark being cracked recently. Costs of cooking oil have also been going up, another result of the situation in Ukraine.

The war in Ukraine is having a knock-on effect generally. Steven Kilfedder, Production Manager at ECA International, says: “As sanctions on Russia start to hit, imports have become scarce, and costs have risen significantly and are likely to rise further. While the currency fell in the survey period, capital controls to stop money fleeing the country have stopped the slide of the rouble. The full, long-term impact of the war and foreign businesses pulling out of Russia on the cost of living in the country will likely not become apparent for some time.”

Bottom of the listing is Ankara – a cheap city for both expats and tourists. Turkey has plummeted down the rankings. Although Erdogan’s policies have not affected inflation as yet – that’s still running at over 60% – they have affected the value of the lira. Brazil, on the other hand, is becoming increasingly expensive.

The ECA report itself has been running since 2005. It analyses the costs of consumer goods and services in more than 490 global locations, and rental costs in over 420. The report covers 207 cities in 120 countries.

World Population Review takes a look at US expats

The World Population Review has done some research into the numbers of US expats abroad, with Mexico coming at the top of its index. The figures (which exclude military personnel) look like this:

  • Mexico 799,000
  • Canada 273,000
  • United Kingdom 171,000
  • Germany 153,000
  • Australia 117,000
  • Israel 77,000
  • South Korea 68,000
  • France 62,000
  • Japan 58,000
  • Spain 57,000

Mexico has long been a favourite of Americans who want to live abroad. It’s cheap, with a great climate, and it’s close to the US. However, it’s not always the safest place on the planet, and economically it’s not too stable. Canada is also appealing, for reasons of safety, good public healthcare, political stability and proximity.

Kuwait deports protestors

Kuwait has recently deported an unspecified number of protestors in a row over the remarks of two BJP spokespersons who made derogatory comments about Islam. This is unlikely to affect most Western expats, but is just a reminder that engaging in protests or sit-ins is illegal for expats in Kuwait, which has seen an increasing localisation policy in recent years. The largest foreign population of Kuwait consists of Indians (the group affected by this recent deportation), followed by Egyptians. With the localisation policies in mind, expats should remember that penalties for breaking the law are likely to be strictly enforced.


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