The future for expats living in Portugal

Repercussions of Brexit for expats living in Europe

A lot of readers will be concerned about the implications for expats living in Europe of the dramatic vote on Thursday for the UK to leave Europe. The are 1.3 million Britons living in the EU compared to 3 million non-British UK residents.


The Telegraph a while ago posed the question ”Could Brexit see expats deported by EU members?”, and concluded it was highly unlikely. The article pointed out that there are numerous political reasons for EU states not to do such a thing, including the treatment of their own nationals living in the UK. The Lusa Press Agency yesterday quoted the Portuguese Minister of Planning Pedro Marques support Portuguese in UKand Infrastructure, Pedro Marques, as “lamenting” the UK’s decision to leave the European Union, but accepting that it was a democratic act by its citizens. “It is a decision we obviously regret. Not the fact that the people voted democratically, because that is normal and healthy in a democracy”, he said. “We are European supporters and we want Europe to continue to expand and continue to be a space of cohesion and peace”, he said. The minister also sent a message to Portuguese emigrant communities, particularly the one in the UK: “The government will do everything so the living conditions of these people is ensured and that they have all the support they need at this time”. In 2014 the Portugal News reported that 30,000 Portuguese were arriving in the UK every year – a remarkable one in four of those leaving their country each year.
Returning to the Telegraph article, it notes that expats would also enjoy significant legal protections that will apply after Brexit. Many lawyers argue that British expats living elsewhere in the EU at the time of Brexit would have individual “acquired rights” under international law.
1969 Vienna Treaty cover expats residing in EuropeThis is based on the Vienna Convention of 1969, which says that the 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.” The House of Commons Library says that “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.” In other words, Brits who have already exercised their right to live in EU states can expect to keep that right after Brexit. Presumably the cut-off point will be when the “divorce” is technically concluded in two years time at the earliest.
The Telegraph makes one important final point: the above only applies to people who have started expat life in the EU before Brexit. After Britain has left, Brits’ ability to live and work in EU nations would depend on new agreements the UK negotiates with those nations.

Second homes in Portugal

No matter how hostile European nations become after Brexit, they still have to respect individual property rights. Both the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention on Human Rights make this clear. It is possible, however, that remaining EU nations could consider a variety of measures, depending on vindictive they feel towards Britain, like making UK homeowners pay more in tax.

Health care

This is a somewhat grey area, but the same Telegraph article concludes that healthcare is unlikely to be withdrawn from expats – not least given that it would open the door to retaliatory measures from the UK which hosts its own share of expats from European nations: there are as many as 3 million EU nationals living in Britain. British expats can also claim to pay their own way in Europe, as the UK paid £674 million in 2014-2015 to other European countries for the treatment of UK nationals. However, the UK received just £49 million from other European nations in the same year to treat those from other countries residing in the UK.

The Portuguese perspective

Antonio Costa reassures expatsSapo report that the Portuguese Prime Minister António Costa observed yesterday that this “is a sad day for the European Union”.
The head of government is directly quoted as saying that Portugal “will endeavour to ensure all rights of the Portuguese community in the UK” and will also guarantee “all the rights of British citizens who live, visit or invest in Portugal.”

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Population decline. Mariza. Glamping. Brexit.

Island population continues to decline

Airport departures sign as population declinesToday’s online Diario, mostly focussed on Portugal’s stuttering start at Euro 2016 typified by Ronaldo’s penalty miss last night, also reports that the population of the region continues to fall. Over the last five years the Autonomous Region of Madeira saw 8,677 people emigrating, which combined with the low birth rate and mortality took the total population back to 2004 levels – now totalling 256,424, having reached the 267,965 in 2010, which was the last year the population increased. The total comprises 119,635 men and 136,789 women, with the proportion of young people (under 15 years) continuing to decrease in 2015, representing 14.8% of the total population (15.2% the previous year). There were 1947 births in 2015, fewer than the 2611 who died.

Mariza headlines in Calheta

Festas do Concelho poster

World-famous Fado singer Mariza headlines in a free concert as part of the Festas da Calheta on Friday night (21.00). With a career that started in 2001, Mariza has appeared at the Carnegie Hall in New York, Sydney Opera House and the Royal Albert Hall in London, and has been nominated for a Grammy awards on a number of occasions. One of her most well-known songs is on You Tube here. Quite an achievement for the municipality to attract someone of her stature.

Glamping arrives in Madeira

Paragliding launch photo

The Guardian yesterday had favourable review of the island from a reporter who “pictured wine, cake, flowers … and old people. It was filed in my mind as a pretty but dull destination, full of pensioners on package deals and cruises”. Fortunately she found the reality quite different……more here

Immigration to prove decisive in Brexit vote?

Wall street journal snippet

As decision day approaches, the Wall Street Journal recently summarised the recent swing in favour the “leave” vote, reporting that the focus of the debate is now clearly focussing on the issue of immigration

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Botanical Gardens. New airport facilities. Dourada.

Botanical Gardens and views over the bay of Funchal

Today’s Diario reports that changes are afoot for the Botanical Gardens in order to make them even more attractive. Some of the changes will be introduced quickly, whilst others will take longer and involve considerable investment. Because of this the price charged for entry are likely to be reviewed. Miguel Sequeira, President of the Institute of Forest and Nature Conservation for Madeira is quoted as saying “It’s the cheapest garden of its kind in the region. This is a garden that is worth more than the current 5.5 euros”. One model being considered is based on the Serralves Gardens in Porto, where the entry price is higher, but there is an open day for the residents once a month. 90% of the visitors to the Botanical Gardens are tourists.

New airport departures facilities

Duty Free Store at Funchal AirportI recently experienced the newly completed departure facilities at the airport which opened at the beginning of the month – much more of a change than I had originally envisaged, even though a lot of work has been going on for a while. The main departure lounge area has been moved up a level to where the large cafe/restaurant area used to be, and is now accessed by two escalators. The number of scanners and conveyor belts at security have been significantly increased, leading through to a larger duty-free area, half a dozen shops and more cafes and bars –  a complete contrast to relatively limited facilities before. Under the new arrangement passengers now go down another escalator to the departure gates, where there are more facilities.
Madeira Airport owner ANA Aeroportos has invested €11m in the 1,800sq m terminal expansion – more details and photos here.

New fish-farming project off Calheta

Fish Farming off MadeiraThe Diario reports that the Jerónimo Martins Group has reached a partnership agreement with the Madeiran company Marisland for an investment of four million euros in Dourada production using an aquaculture system in the Calheta area. The company ‘Tomorrow Star’, resulting from this partnership will install ten fish production cages in October, with the aim of starting production next year. One of their customers will be the Pingo Doce supermarket chain. It is estimated that the new company will have an initial capacity of around 550 tonnes of fish per year with a potential output of 1,200 tonnes. Must be a technical challenge, as waves as high as twelve metres have been recorded in the area according one of the cage manufacturers.

“Hug a Brit”

Hug a Brit logoThe Guardian recently reported that a German woman living in London has deployed a secret weapon to keep Britain in the European Union: hugs. Katrin Lock has launched the “Hug a Brit” social media campaign, which calls on members of EU states to shower Britons with love in an attempt to convince them to vote “Remain” in the looming Brexit referendum. Lock, who created the Twitter account @pleasedontgouk as part of the campaign, said: “We are EU citizens who want the British people to stay in the European Union. This is our love bomb”. Another message reads: “We love you! You are part of Europe. Please don’t leave. Please don’t go, UK!”

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