The effects of the UK EU Referendum

The EU Referendum may well mean changes for all expats in France: how will this affect you?

The UK’s Conservative Government won a majority of seats at the last election and their manifesto included a commitment to hold a national vote on the UK’s membership of the European Union before the end of 2017.
If such a vote does take place, it would be the second time the UK electorate has been asked to choose whether or not to stay within the European Union. The last time was in 1975 when the Labour Government which was elected in 1974 followed through on an election promise to give the British electorate a change to vote on whether to remain in Europe. The result then was a 2 to 1 majority in favour of remaining a part of Europe.

The UK and Europe

Cut to today, some 42 years later, and the issue of the UK remaining a part of Europe is once again top of the political agenda. Naturally, British people have become used to being a part of Europe, and thus, many of us have been able to turn our dreams of moving to another part of Europe into reality. There are of course so many reasons why many British people seek life in other countries: the climate, standard of living, attractive property prices, space, natural beauty, etc.
However, a possible departure from the EU may make things much more difficult for both the people who are contemplating a new life away from the UK, and the expats who made the move years ago – who are concerned about losing benefits such as their state pension, or winter fuel allowance, should the UK leave the EU.
Here in France, it is a subject that often comes up among our expat friends. But many are determined to stay put, and rightly so: most European countries, France included, have realised that UK expats move for positive reasons and bring a healthy contribution to their new country in terms of investing in property and establishing businesses in their new home. Those of retirement age will have done their homework and will be able to support themselves.

Integration is the key to successful living abroad.

It is true to say that most expats are keen to fully integrate in their new country; learn the language, get involved in local affairs and generally take a healthy interest in their adopted country.
We should not forget that the UK is not a signatory to the Schengen agreement, which allows European citizens to move freely within Europe. So, if Britain was to leave the EU, British citizens would still be likely to face the same deal when it comes to travelling in Europe as they do at present.

Healthcare in France should be unaffected

We do not as yet know if the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) will still be able to be used by British people if the UK decides to leave the EU. This card guarantees many expats at least a minimum level of cover against accident and illness while travelling in Europe. It could be that the EHIC would no longer cover British people for treatment in Europe if the UK were to leave the EU. But remember that this card simply provides a contribution to payment for treatment, not full cover, so is not really a substitute for a health insurance policy, in any event. Whatever happens at the EU Referendum, it is wise to take out separate health insurance for living in France or other European countries if you are moving there.

Don’t panic!

We believe that the UK is likely to vote to stay in Europe, but if not, research so far shows that although some people may wish to return to the UK, the majority will carry on with their new lives in other countries of Europe and deal with whatever happens as it comes. In short, do not panic; and if you are planning a move to France, now remains an excellent time to do so with the strength of the pound and property prices remaining stagnant or dropping.

Further reading for Living In France


Finding work in France

There are a number of ways that UK expats can fund their lifestyle in France.


Education in France

Are you emigrating to France with school-age children?



Social life in France

The best way to get settled in France is to find out as much as you can about your new community.



The French healthcare system is one of the best in the world...