I did a poll the other day asking whether people wanted to hear about the meeting at the British Embassy in Stockholm regarding Brexit! The answer was a resounding yes with all 36 votes.
The meeting was being held by the British embassy at Stockholm’s English church. The priest actually opened the evening and was quite funny. He said “if you’re English and live in Stockholm and don’t go to church, then this is the church you don’t go to”. He followed this with “we don’t know a lot about brexit, and I’m sure people want to know what it will mean, other than brexit” which got a rouse of laughter.
The discussion was led by the British ambassador to Sweden. He was joined by three senior Swedish ministers, two Brits from the brexit negotiation team and an expat group representative. They each had a say on what Brexit would mean from their area of expertise and then questions were fielded.
The Swedes were very blunt – they didn’t want brexit, they didn’t like brexit, but they would do what they could to continue as partners and protect the rights of Brits in Sweden.
So to sum up the 1.5 hours, the gist is:
- From 31 March 2018 (when the UK formerly leaves the EU) – 31 Dec 2020 there is a transition period
- During the transition period us expats can enjoy the same rights as we have now as EU citizens in Sweden – that means freedom to reside, access to healthcare, access to education etc
- If you want to move to an EU country – best do so before Dec 2020 if you want to be afforded these rights
- After 31 Dec 2020 – nobody knows…
- If there is an agreement reached we may have similar benefits, but will likely have to apply for residency visas, and potentially face a whole lot of complications
- If there is no agreement, then it’s just more complications
- For example, we may have the right to live in Sweden but not to travel freely across the EU, so a holiday or business trip to Denmark next door could be as complicated as the visa process and long border security checks at the airport as in entry to the USA!
It really hammered home how little we know about what life could be post brexit. There is so much to consider – residency, healthcare, education, pensions, travel, voting… and that is just from a personal perspective, not including all of the trade, regulation, international cooperation in law enforcement, science etc
I feel sorry for the UK nationals elsewhere in Europe and EU nationals in the UK who face this uncertainty