BrExpats — a research project examining what Brexit means for UK citizens living in the EU27
This project is organised around three interrelated research questions:
- What will be the consequences of Brexit for the political rights, social and financial entitlements and citizenship of such populations; how will the consequences be understood, communicated, managed and mediated by institutional actors in Britain and Europe as they unfold?
- How is Brexit experienced by Britons resident in Europe, across a range of national and local settings; in what ways will this cause them they re-evaluate their lives and citizenship, re-negotiate their identities, (re)position themselves in relation to shifting political realities of Europe, navigate and manage the changing structural conditions that shape the possibilities for their continued residence and/or repatriations?
- When and in what ways do these populations feature within the Brexit negotiations, and how are their experiences in turn shaped by the ways they are represented in policy, media and decision-making?
One of the key sources of information for the Brexit Brits Abroad Project is our Citizens Panel. This includes a diverse range of people who live in the EU27 who we contact from time to time about how/if Brexit is affecting them as the negotiations unfold.
The project will continue until 30th April 2019. Over this time, we will be contacting our panels to ask for their thoughts on specific topics as they arise in relation to political debates and the ongoing negotiations. We will use a mixture of ways of approaching and communicating and will work with panel members in ways that suit them. You can see the sorts of things we asked panellists to do for us in August, September, and October 2017.
In other words you can email us, talk on the phone, send in unsolicited stories about yourself, send photos or videos, talk to us by skype, and so on. We hope panel members will stay in touch with us for the duration of the project, but we will try not to be too demanding and will accept whatever they feel like contributing. You can also download further information about taking part in the Citizens’ Panels.
Who are we looking for to take part?
We aim for a mix of demographics and experiences in our panels. In terms of anonymity, we will not publish anything about you on our web page, or blog, or in our work without checking with you first. Some people will want to be anonymous. Others won’t.
We are still looking for volunteers to join our Panel: at the moment we are particularly keen to find new members in Ireland, Spain, and Italy; and members who supported the Leave campaign.
If you are a British person living and/or working in the EU27 and would like to share your stories, experiences, feelings, hope, doubts, insecurities, and insights, please click on the button below to register your details and a member of the project team will be in touch!
Over the course of the project we will be doing some research with British populations in France and Spain, including spending time on the ground in both countries and conducting interviews with Britons resident in these locations.
**New** Interested in what Brexit means for UK citizens living in France and Spain? We’ve got lots of analysis for you! Check out the latest findings from Michaela’s research in France and Karen’s research in Spain.
In the first instance, we will be returning to the sites of our earlier fieldwork—Michaela will be in the Lot, and Karen on the Costa del Sol. In recognition of the diversity of the British populations living in Europe, we are interested in hearing from people across the life course for reasons that include work, study and retirement, as well as dual nationals. We are also hoping to expand beyond these initial sites to include Britons resident in other parts of France and Spain, including the big cities.
What are we interested in?
The aim of the interviews is to develop an understanding of the key issues that Brexit presents for British populations living in Europe and how these migrant populations are managing these. However, to really develop such an understanding we also need to know a little bit about what brought people to France and Spain, daily life, and hopes and plans for the future.
What’s an interview like?
We have both been interviewing people for a long time and have found that an informal approach is best. For this reason, we like to meet the people who take part in our research face-to-face for a chat, and so are prepared to travel, but we can also offer the possibility of conducting an interview over the Internet if the distance is too great!
If you are a UK citizen living and/or working in France and Spain and would be interested in taking part in the research, please click on the button below to register your details and a member of the project team will be in touch!
**NEW** Listen to Michaela and Chantelle talk about this element of the research and initial findings in Episode 19 of our Podcast, and read more about it in their guest blog on the Overseas Electors Bill 2017-19 for the UK in a changing Europe and in this recent long read.
The project also includes a close reading of how UK citizens living in the EU27 are represented in the Brexit negotiations, politics, and the media. Our aim with this element of the research is to draw out the frames of reference—who people think about when they consider the British abroad, the demographics of this population—commonly used by national media, politicians and policy makers and other key stakeholders, and how these feed into negotiations around the future rights and entitlements of Britons who have made their homes and lives in Europe (e.g. the right to vote, continued residence and access to welfare in European nation states).
It involves an extensive review of Hansard reports, newspaper coverage, policy documents, this element of the research pieces together what these representations reveal about Britain/Britons as they see their relationship to Europe and conceive of citizenship, also tracking Europe and European nation states’ changing attitudes towards Britain and the British within their borders. It takes this investigation for a start date of 2015, and tracks such representations over the duration of the project.
The Migration Policy Institute are working with the project team to deliver this element of the research. It involves interviewing institutional actors in Britain (e.g. FCO, DWP, HMRC), within the European Commission, and in seven EU Member States—Spain, France, Ireland, Germany, the Netherlands, Cyprus and Sweden—to capture how institutional actors with responsibilities for these British population understand, communicate, manage and mediate the effects of the Brexit negotiations on UK citizens living in the EU27. In this way it keeps a finger on the pulse of the challenges Brexit presents for the formal support services regularly dealing with British overseas populations and maps and evaluates the solutions such institutional actors identify, develop and promote to overcome such challenges, including the management of potential return migration.