During my recent short stay in London I’ve learnt a neologism, Brexit, i.e Britain’s Exit from the E. C. I’ve also learnt that all the arguments for leaving the European Community seem to concentrate on people actually living in the UK. What about ex-pats, of which there are well over two million spread across Europe, the vast majority of which are the one million living in Spain? Italy has 33,000 ex-pats.
If they’ve registered correctly British residents living outside the UK but within the EC should consider the way they vote in the forthcoming referendum very carefully. If the United kingdom does decide to opt out of the EC the most extreme scenario would be the following for ex-pats in Italy.
1. Expats would have to apply for visas which could only be renewed if, at regular intervals, they leave Italy to then re-enter for yet another application to be valid.
2. They would have to attend compulsory citizenship classes and pass exams in speaking and writing italian. i.e. they would have to prove that they are making efforts to integrate within the community.
3. Those on pensions from abroad would have those pensions frozen.
4. Queues at airports such as Pisa would be much longer since ex-pats returning to Italy would have to go through the standard procedures applicable to non EC members (something to declare!).
5. Any money, however earned in Italy would be subject to the highest tax rates, and any ex-pat business in Italy would be even more enchained by bureaucratic processes.
6. Any family member wishing to join expats would be subject to the same checks that are applied to eg. refugees coming from Afghanistan who wish to join family member in the EC.
7. Property buying and car ownership would be a much more protracted business.
8. All expats would have to regularly register and re-register at the local police station. If they decide on a holiday abroad from Italy then they would have to inform the authorities of the same.
9. Provided that they pass their italian literacy and language exams, ex-pats would then have to swear an oath of allegiance to the Italian state.
10. Import-export contracts and even just bringing in a pop-up toaster to Italy would be subject to scrutiny by the fiscal police and clearly most baggage would be examined by the relevant customs officers at all points of arrival or departure in the country.
Fancy going along with David or with Boris now?
The only solution to this worst-case scenario is find a nice Italian partner or at least one with dual Italian/other country nationality (as I have done) and marry in Bagni di Lucca’s town hall. Otherwise, swot up your Italian to the recquired standard and hope for the best.
Straw polls show that at this moment both yes and no parties in the UK are neck and neck. Certainly, Boris is working wonders for the No vote. So either get out your Italian grammar books, swot up your italian history, learn the words to the Italian national anthem or keep a look-out for an Italian passport bearing attractive human with whom you feel you might be able to tie the knot!