‘Lazy’ EU looking to use British expat residency row to ‘punish’ UK for leaving bloc

EU 'using expats to punish UK for Brexit' says expert

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New residency rules imposed on Brits living in the EU have come under fire from Brexiteers who believe the new requirements have been designed to punish the UK. In Spain, Italy and France, British residents have face uncertainty as they look to register for residency post Brexit, facing long delays and bureaucratic pitfalls when trying to access healthcare or apply for a driving licence. Senior Research Executive at Get Britain Out, Joshua Mackenzie-Lawrie has slammed the EU for “lazy and vindictive behaviour” towards British expats.

Mr Mackenzie-Lawrie told Express.co.uk: “In reality, it comes down to a degree of lazy behaviour from the European Union and a vindictive approach to try and punish the UK on any front.

“Whereas of course, the UK wanted to have a much more welcoming and a relationship based on friends and partners as Boris Johnson would like to say.

“But clearly the European Union isn’t the same.”

The Brexiteer argued the ongoing residency woes faces by Britain living abroad showed just how “inward-looking” and “closed off to the World” the EU was.

He added: “It is obviously something everyone always talks about Brexiteers being but when it comes to the reality it is completely the opposite.”

Mr Mackenzie-Lawrie also highlighted the fact that the UK had been quicker to organise a new post-Brexit residency framework.

He told Express.co.uk: “Fundamentally we also got our stuff together sooner.

“We got ourselves organised, it was a good two-three years ago that we started allowing people to start applying for the right to remain.

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“Whereas in a lot of European countries there refused to start doing it until even during the transition period.”

As an example of the EU dragging its feet when it came to foreign residency rights, Mackenzie-Lawrie pointed to France’s refusal to transfer British driving licences over to their French equivalent.

He told Express.co.uk: “In France this year they have been refusing to grant people French driving licences when they have applied to transfer them across.

“Simply because they claim the trade and cooperation agreement hadn’t been fully ratified when in reality we all knew that the EU parliament was going to ratify it. As they have done now with a majority of 400 and only five votes against.”


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Brits living in Spain have also found switching their British driving licence over to a Spanish one next to impossible, despite it being a requirement under Spanish law.

Bremain in Spain founder Sue Wilson has described the problems facing British national as a “Catch-22” situation.

The activist who campaigns for the rights of British migrants living in Spain warned the once the deadline has passed, expats will no longer be able to switch over the driving licence without first having to take a driving test.

“Obviously that is a difficulty that people are worried about facing,” stressed Ms Wilson.


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