If the UK crashes out of the European Union in a hard Brexit, Portugal plans to treat the British here in the same way the United Kingdom treats the Portuguese there.
Augusto Santos Silva said that the exit of the United Kingdom from the European Union, at the end of March 2019, is one of the main challenges that the government faces next year regarding overseas Portuguese communities.
The minister was speaking at the presentation of the 2017 report form the Immigration Observatory.
“If the exit of the United Kingdom is done with agreement, the current rules will be in force and the rights of the foreign citizens of the EU are safeguarded until 2020. If not, the Portuguese government’s intention is to maintain the most favourable regime for British citizens in Portugal, if they maintain the most favourable regime for the Portuguese in the United Kingdom,” said the Foreign Minister.
In 2017, an estimated 90,000 nationals left Portugal, 23,000 of them landing in the UK.
One of the effects of Brexit has been the drop in the number of Portuguese moving to the UK, which Rui Pena Pires, curator of the Immigration Observatory, says has a direct relation with the decrease of unemployment in Portugal.
“The Portuguese immigration curve closely follows the employment curve. The decrease in outflows is explained very well by the changes in the Portuguese economy,” said the sociologist, failing to grasp that few wish to move to the UK during this current period of deep uncertainty.
Another effect of Brexit is the number of citizens born in Portugal who currently are living in the United Kingdom and are acquiring Portuguese nationality, in addition to holding their British passports: an additional 1,234 of them in 2017, sensibly hedging their bets.