21-03-2017

With just a week to go before Article 50 is triggered and the UK begins leaving the EU, the British government has made it clear that the welfare of expatriates is high on the agenda.

The Spanish government has also made it clear that it would like a "soft Brexit" so that British residents in Spain continue to enjoying living in the country as easily and comfortably as they do now.

The Bulletin has had access to a letter from the Right Honourable David Jones MP Minister For Exiting the European Union and he states that "until we have left the EU, the UK will remain a member with all the rights and obligations that membership entails. There has been no change to the rights and status of UK citizens in the EU or of nationals in the UK because of the referendum."

The minister goes on to state in the letter to Sir Roger Gale MP: "One of the twelve key objectives as we exit the EU is to secure the status of UK nationals in the EU and the status of EU citizens in the UK. We stand ready to reach a deal right now if other countries agree. Such a deal is in everyone’s interests and it is the right and fair thing to do. We want the status of UK nationals already living in the EU to remain the same."

As the Bulletin has already reported, the Spanish government would also like to reach some quick and easy agreements. Madrid would "in principle" favour an agreement that would allow Britons living in Spain and other parts of the EU to retain existing rights.

Jorge Toledo, the Spanish secretary for the EU and Madrid’s leading negotiator on Brexit, has said: "We are broadly in favour of retaining a reciprocal agreement on questions like health care and freedom of movement. As regards the rights of EU citizens in the UK and the rights of UK citizens in the EU, Spain is in favour of the amplest respect of these rights in the future but the modalities and conditions will and should be a matter of negotiation."

About one million Britons live full time or part time in Spain, making it the biggest British expatriate community in the EU. According to the Foreign Office, 292,121 are registered with local councils, of which 101,997 are aged over 65. Many more are not registered but live in Spain permanently.

Concerns about access to health care and freedom of labour and movement are uppermost for British expatriates who have demanded some kind of reassurance from London and Madrid. It would appear for the moment that both sides want similar deals.

Spain’s tourist industry is driven by British tourists and a hard Brexit could cost Spain a billion pounds. Sir Roger Gale said yesterday: "I am personally, in tandem with a number of others, seeking reassurances in particular on future health care, pension uprating and ‘exportable benefits’ (DLA/Attendance Allowance/ Carers Allowance) provision for those UK citizens resident in mainland Europe post-Brexit.

"It is because there is no certainty that the prime minister has resisted calls for a unilateral agreement to allow EU citizens to remain and claim benefits in the UK until a full reciprocal deal is struck and we simply cannot, therefore, offer more comfort at present.What I cannot do, however, is represent individual constituents other than my own and I must therefore respectfully request that those with concerns make contact with their own MPs (last registered UK address) to seek support. That way we can perhaps build a coalition of interest to help fight your corner."

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John / Hace over 4 years

Spain have already said that there will no changes to the status of British nationals already living here legally. After the UK leave the EU, new IMMIGRANTS (not expats,- meaningless offensive word) wanting to live here legally will be required to comply with the Spanish regs just as before the EU was started. Legal working residents will have Spanish National Health, kids education and all that goes with it. Anybody wanting to retire here should get their paperwork and their finances prepared in the meantime.

Hopefully we'll have thousands less illegal workers and pensioners living here complaining about a country that, unlike the UK, is getting it's house in order for all it's habitants. Should be great.

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S. / Hace over 4 years

Can Politicians be trusted Today ?. Many Ex Pats are already leaving the EU. Medical Cover, loss of income, loss of businesses etc(.possible introduction of Visa regulations etc.) . I do not think anyone can rely on the politicians statements, letters and pontifications, now- or in the future.

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