Portugal Commits to British Expats, Investors and Tourists as Brexit Looms
The country has put together Portugal IN, a temporary Brexit taskforce to help UK businesses navigate through the changes that will come after the UK leaves the European Union on Halloween.
The taskforce is working together with the Portuguese Trade and Investment Agency (AICEP), Turismo de Portugal and other public entities to ensure that UK businesses experience a smooth transition after the divorce.
With both countries economically intertwined, Lisbon has prepared a series of measures in order to minimise Brexit disruption.
Given that the UK is the largest source of tourists to Portugal, the Portuguese government is ready to give guarantees of visa exemption, open dedicated passport control lanes, and is studying the possible mutual recognition of driving licences and access to the Portuguese health service by Britons.
Portugal is also prepared to consider all UK citizens living in the country as legal residents until Brexit happens, providing the UK reciprocates. Those who have lived in Portugal for less than five years will be entitled to a temporary residence card. Those who have been in the country for longer will be given either long-term resident status of a permanent residency card
For students who are currently studying in Portugal or applying to study in Portugal until 31 December 2020 will qualify as EU students until the end of their courses.
“The Portuguese government was among the first to announce that we wanted to keep the National Health Service available to Britons, to not overcomplicate the arrivals procedures for British,” Rui Boavista Marques, director of the Portuguese Trade and Investment Office (AICEP) told International Investment.
“The Study in Portugal is a very interesting measure that will make it easier for foreign students to move to Portugal. We have several universities supporting it, implementing masters taught exclusively in English and we are seeing the number of students from abroad choosing our country growing impressively,” he added.
Because of that “no one will tell a British student that because of Brexit he has to leave”.
“There is much uncertainty surrounding Brexit but I believe that Portugal has reacted positively to ensure the rights of the British community that lives and works in our country,” Boavista Marques said.
The Portuguese government launched a campaign that says its all about the stance it’s taking amid the uncertainty: ‘Brelcome, Portugal will never leave you’.
ATTRACT TALENT AND INVESTMENT
Portugal is reaping the economic benefits from companies looking to expand in Europe and UK investors are not missing the opportunity.
Google, BNP Paribas, Siemens, Bosch, Mercedes, BMW and several other multinationals have set up operations in Portugal, bringing along expats professionals and creating jobs for local qualified workers.
The UK in 2018 climbed to the top position on Portugal source of foreign direct investment – ahead of China, Netherlands and Spain – with an investment flow of £711m, an 18% growth YoY.
A total of 22 companies from the UK invested in Portugal in the last two years, creating over 1,400 jobs according to FDI Intelligence, a Financial Times service.
To make sure that Brexit doesn’t impact that, the Portuguese government has created a dedicated front office desk to help UK companies that want to relocate or open a branch in Portugal.
However, there are also opportunities to be explored after Brexit.
“Our market quotas here are strong but we want to consolidate them. We want to build the level of trust with our British commercial partners because we believe that Brexit will create opportunities and we have to be ready,” Boavista Marques said.
Portugal is working hard to ensure that even after Brexit, the ancient preferential status for Britain and its citizens, pillared from the world’s oldest active alliance established in 1373, is maintained.
Brexit is set to be delivered on deliver on 31 October.
Published: 12 June 2019