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What will BREXIT mean for ex-pats in Spain?

With the EU referendum looming, thousands of ex-pats in Spain who own property are wondering just how a British exit will affect them.

Are they right to be concerned or is the Remain camp scaremongering?

Ex-pat concerns have increased since the Remain camp have been warning a Brexit will have serious knock-on effects for UK home owners in Spain.

According to their reports, British ex-pats may no longer be able to buy properties in Europe as second homes and everything we take for granted about access to the single market will be in question, including the right to go and live in France or Spain.

Approximately 1.3 million Britons live in other parts of Europe, with around 320,000 of those in Spain.

The Pro-EU camp claim that British ex-pats are only allowed to reside in other European countries thanks to the EU’s right of free movement. It has also been suggested that British citizens living in EU countries would become ‘illegal overnight’ if Britain leaves the EU.

There are also some fears that if Britain leave, other member states may take revenge on ex-pats by asking for retirees to pay for their own health care for example.

The UK Government has said: "Many UK citizens would want any negotiations to secure their continued right to work, reside and own property in other EU states, and to access public services such as medical treatment in those states. UK citizens resident abroad, among them those who have retired to Spain, would not be able to assume that these rights will be guaranteed."

It is however unlikely that ex-pats would be barred from receiving EU healthcare as it could lead to retaliatory measures in the UK, where over 3 million EU nationals reside.

The UK paid £675 million in 2014-2015 to other European countries for the treatment of UK nationals, so no other state can accuse Britain of not paying their way. The UK received just £49 million from other European nations in the same year for those EU citizens living in the UK.

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.

There are numerous political reasons for EU states not to expel any UK ex-pats following a Brexit, including the treatment of their own, numerous, nationals living in the UK.

Brits who have already exercised their right to live in EU states can expect to keep that right after Brexit.This only applies however to people who have started expat life in the EU before Brexit.

If Britain leaves, Brits’ ability to live and work in EU nations would depend on new agreements the UK negotiated with those nations. Also, following a Brexit, the remaining EU nations, including Spain could consider a variety of measures if they choose to, including making foreign home owners pay more in tax!