The European Commission faces legal action from a group of British expats called 'Fair Deal for Expats' after ruling that officials must not engage in any discussions with the British government about a post-Brexit world until after Article 50 has been triggered. The group say that the ruling leaves them in a precarious position, as they do not know whether or not they will be allowed to continue living in other European countries.
Though the group may not have to wait too long for those talks with British Prime Minister Theresa May having announced last Sunday (2 October) she would seek to trigger Article 50 before March 2017, the talks could not come soon enough, it felt. Speaking to Sky News on behalf of the group, Wynne Edwards, a retired solicitor living in France, said: "There are things that we don't know that we don't know, because there are little things that affect people individually that we just haven't thought about," and called for discussions to begin in order to ensure those details could be considered.
Edwards said the ruling announced by EU Council President Donald Tusk meant that "we just don't know what our future holds for us." Edwards went on to list a number of issues that could arise for expats living in EU member states, from the value of property to medical care.
Speaking about "ordinary family homes" that had been "invested heavily in" Edwards flagged concerns that a mass-departure from Europe by expats who had been forced out would cause a decline in the values of those properties. He said: "Their value would obviously drop because there would be a glut on the market."
Edwards also cited concerns for young families "with children who've gone to school and been brought up as French or Spanish or German ... would they have to leave, would they be disrupted?"
"Even more importantly," he added "16 or 17-year-olds ... they are still British subjects ... would they have to leave and be separated from their parents?"
He also referred to British citizens seeking medical treatment in EU member states "that they would not have been able to receive in the UK" and would have died without it.
"Do they have to go back to the UK and die?" he asked.
The group has issued a legal challenge against President of the EU Commission Jean-Claude Juncker and his "unlawful gagging order", the BBC reported.
Much uncertainty lies ahead of the UK's exit from the European Union, in particular if and how the UK will continue to access the single market. However, Juncker said on Wednesday, echoing comments made by German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the UK could not pick and choose its relationship with the bloc.
"You can't have one foot in and one foot out," Juncker said during a speech in Paris. "On this point we need to be intransigent. I see the manoeuvring.
"It should be obvious that if the United Kingdom wants to have free access to the [EU's] internal market all the rules and all the liberties... need to be fully respected."