Towards Solutions to the Four Objectives.
1. Freedom of movement is an
enshrined corner stone of the European Union.
Yet the UK
Government places so many obstacles in the way of the expatriate pensioner in Europe. On the basis that the world is growing smaller
and that the UK is within the European Union, would it not be a simple step to
declare that the European Union is a legitimate zone to which to retire –
extending the spirit of the 1920’s and 1930’s when many elderly people retired
to the south coast – reflecting the current ease of travel and communication.
The membership of the EU enforces a distinction between Europe,
and the rest of the world (Australia,
N.Z. U.S.A., Canada etc.)
entitled under EU law to receive benefits such as Attendance Allowance [AA]
(though the UK
displays a reluctance to observe the law) and Winter Fuel Payment (WFP) if you
were entitled to receive them in the UK. Retirees who receive the first are only
likely to retire to the Continent for the sake of their health. The WFP was
unfairly denied to those who retired to the Continent before its inception in
1998. It was the EU which forced the
hand of the UK
to pay it to pensioners in mainland Europe. It is clear
that it forms an important part of the State provision for the elderly. The very elderly on the Continent are those
who are most in need and it is those very people who are denied.
[Benefits also available to under 65’s are DLA –Disability Living Allowance and it successor PIP, and CA – Carers
Allowance which is linked to concurrent provision of DLA or AA to a person who receives care.]
Financial Opportunities. –
pensioners derive their income from UK
based funds. Yet they are usually not
permitted to open bank accounts in the UK
because they are non-resident. They are in consequence denied freedom to change
bank accounts. They cannot avail themselves of such vehicles as ISA’s. Yet these pensioners may well in their very
final years return to the UK to die ‘in the bosom of their families’. Such tax-free investments could be enormously
helpful in their support in those final years.
would derive from denoting the EU as a Legitimate
Retirement Zone where the pensioner is, for the most part, treated as an
equal citizen vis-à-vis a pensioner who lives in the UK. The opportunities could be limited to those
non-resident citizens who demonstrate that they receive a state related old age
2. The lack of appropriate
representation in Parliament. The
arguments against the existing system have been dealt with in another link of
this blog-site. As a first step, a Minister
for the expatriate community in Europe (MEE) could be appointed. As the European expatriate community comes to
realise its political voice, then one hopefully would move towards the direct
election of Members of Parliament for expatriate communities in Europe.
The effect of the Double Taxation Conventions. These have a long established historical base
dating from times before the institution of the EU. They retain a purpose for commercial
organisations who may well otherwise suffer a double taxation. One questions whether they have a function in
individual taxation. Since they exist
and are unlikely to change, it is essential that where it is stated that one is
taxed in the country of Origin and not in the country of Residence, then it
should be so correctly applied. Currently, in France, it is not so. In consequence the expatriate ex-government employees pays more tax in Britain
than they would do if all income were taxed in France. The British Government must redress this
situation, by consultation with the French Authorities.
4. The stability of the £ against
the Euro. At heart the British
Political Sense must decide if it is going to take a full role in Europe
or not. There can never be a full
participation in the trade of Europe if violent fluctuations
of currency are allowed to recur. It is
a mighty political step to make, but it would be progress if the Bank of
England should understand the situation of the expatriate and not lower its
Bank rate below that of the European Central Bank without a very powerful
in the EU beyond the UK
are treated by the British Government as second-class citizens.