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Mallorca home owner and leading British businessman Andrew Hesselden last year launched the ‘180 Days in Spain’ campaign to challenge the 90-day rule and see that this is changed, at least in Spain, and his efforts have gained massive momentum and widespread support from Britons across the UK and elsewhere in the European Union.

The fallout from Brexit is still raining down on millions of people, not least Britons who own second homes in Mallorca and Spain in general.

Andrew, who is in his early 40s, has a home in Mallorca and spends a lot of time in London, where he is based in Canary Wharf.

He divides his time between the two places, spending as much time in Mallorca as life allows.
He loves the island and has made many friends here. Andrew is fluent in Spanish and German and speaks six languages in total. He studied modern languages at university and always believed his career and life would be centred around living and working in Europe.

He was keen to stress that he did not vote for Brexit and believes that the UK was much better off in the EU and that London went about it in a way which didn’t respect all citizens’ rights.

As a result, he does not believe there is a public majority in favour of Brexit today.
He launched the campaign to try to convince the Spanish and British governments to correct serious mistakes which have been made, such as the 90-day rule, which is affecting part-year residents and causing Britons currently in Mallorca a great deal of concern and even forcing some on the mainland to sell up and return to the UK.

“As Campaign Director for the ‘180 Days in Spain’ campaign (, it’s become a bit of a professional pro bono effort and we seem to have created something that’s got a lot of support now.

“We’re contacting Spanish and British politicians and asking for their help to ensure that the rights and interests of part-year residents in Spain are properly protected after Brexit.

“But the campaign is bigger than that because, at the same time, we also hope to alleviate some of the current travel woes for all British visitors to Spain that were caused by Brexit; specifically by the choices the UK government made and their continued and ongoing inaction on the matter.
“We’re working with other groups in France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Cyprus too,” Andrew told the Bulletin.

“After watching the results of the referendum unfold in 2016 and realising the impact a badly negotiated Brexit could have, I joined many British emigrant groups online and waited to see what Brexit would mean for people living for part or all of the year across Europe. Many of the organisations set up to advocate for Brits abroad seemed to have a bit of a blind spot for people like seasonal workers or part-year residents who had made a home in two or more countries, so I decided these people needed to have a voice.”

The group’s 5,400 members include seasonal workers, second home owners, retirees, freelancers, consultants, artists, business owners, students, remote workers, and the list goes on.

They are asking Spanish politicians to make changes that will let them regain the right to spend time in the country in more or less the same way they did before Brexit to gain the protection they need.

The campaign has wider appeal than just homeowners because they are also asking for the same access for all British visitors to Spain as Spanish visitors to the UK enjoy.

“Spanish citizens can still visit the UK for up to six months at a time without any need for a visa. This means that Spanish people in the reverse situation are not affected by loss of freedom of movement in the UK in quite the same way,” Andrew highlighted.

“We estimate this issue probably affects more than 1.6 million British ‘part-year’ residents who spend time and money in Spain each year.

“Across Europe the number could be as high as five to 10 million British people.
“Until Brexit, they did this completely lawfully either using Freedom of Movement or by registering as required in the event they ever stayed more than 90 days.
“We understand there are 800,000 properties in Spain that are owned by British people. So, conservatively allowing for just two people per property, this adds up to at least 1.6 million people impacted.

“Spain has around 385,000 registered full-year resident Brits, who have had their rights to live and work in Spain largely protected.
“So, we can already see that perhaps as many as four or five times that number are left uncertain if they will still have the freedom to live in homes they have made in Spain. That’s because, although the Withdrawal Agreement doesn’t automatically guarantee protection for these people, they hope Spain will be generous and let them stay if they want to.

“If Brits spend 90 days in their part-year home in Spain, they are now unable to go to any other Schengen zone country until a further 90 days have elapsed. Even a week skiing in Switzerland or a business meeting to visit a client in Germany both reduce the time someone can use their home in Spain. A small miscalculation could have consequences,” he said.

Impacting tourism too
“Someone with a part-year life in France or Italy may now find they don’t have enough days left to spend even a week in Spain on holiday or to visit family, so this could impact Spain’s tourism industry too.
“Businesses in the coastal regions and islands who are already struggling to recover after Covid will probably begin to notice the impact of fewer British part-year residents living in the area or visiting as time goes on.
“The impact of being forced to distribute time in Spain evenly throughout the year in spring and autumn or summer and winter, together with having other commitments elsewhere, means that part-year residents who spent 150/160/170 days in Spain per year before Brexit find they are only managing to use 100/110/120 of their Schengen days in Spain. That could mean a 40% reduction in time spent in their homes in Spain,” Andrew explained.

Other non-EU countries
“We know these rules are not new, but they are new in their application to British people.
“However, bilateral treaties mean there are already practical exceptions to these rules for certain nationalities, such as US/NZ/Canadian citizens. So, we know exceptions are possible if politicians want to make them.
“Spain appears to have bilateral agreements with 19 non-EU countries including Canada, New Zealand, Japan and could perhaps choose to sign one with the UK too,” he said.

An expanding problem
“Now that Croatia has joined the Schengen zone, the six months that Brits used to spend in Spain needs to cover any visits they make to 27 different countries.
“Unless the UK decides to join Schengen itself at the same time as Gibraltar, with each addition to the Schengen zone, the problem for British citizens increases.
“Cyprus, Bulgaria and Romania are all set to follow Croatia and join in the future.”

Essentially a one-way problem
“Spanish citizens with homes in the UK that they use for less than six months per year are largely unaffected because the UK lets visitors from EU countries routinely stay for up to six months per visit.
“We would like Spain to do the same for all British citizens visiting Spain and we believe it is able to do so despite being part of the Schengen zone,” Andrew stressed.

Other Schengen countries
Portugal already seems to have made changes to provide for simple extensions, which proves that it is possible to do. Longer stays also seem to be possible in Sweden without a requirement for full visas.
“France has a short-term visa, but the process is bureaucratic and we don’t think it’s fair or reasonable to expect people to go to the effort and expense of applying for new visas every year just to live in their own homes; especially since Europeans are still not expected to do so in the UK for stays of less than 6 months at a time,” he was keen to point out.

Our two aspirations
“What we are asking for, for British visitors to Spain, is a very simple match of what the UK offers to Spanish visitors, which is a visa waiver of six months per visit exclusively for use in Spain.
“We think this will be easy to administer and encourage tourism and continued movement between our two countries.
“In addition, we’re asking for all Brits in Spain before December 31, 2020 to be treated equally, regardless of whether they live in their Spanish home for one day of the year or all 365, and have their pre-Brexit rights fully protected,” Andrew said.

“We are presenting our alternative solution because we understand it might be more compatible with the current UK government’s position.
“We believe what we are asking for can probably be delivered unilaterally by Spain regardless of its participation in the Schengen zone, or as a new bilateral agreement with the UK.

“This doesn’t require the UK government to change visitor arrangements to the UK at all, so the UK government should have no problem with such an agreement.
“We don’t believe Spain needs to ask permission from Brussels; merely that they might need to advise/consult other Schengen members so the arrangement is known about.

“Separately run sister campaigns are asking for broadly the same in France, Germany, Italy, Greece and Cyprus,” he said.
The idea of Spain’s former tourism secretary of state Fernando Valdes to scrap the 90/180 rule is different; that would mean a change to the Schengen Treaty and that’s why he probably asked Brussels to do it.
“But it is encouraging that Spain appears to realise the potential damage the rule could have on the economy in the long term. But like I’ve said, Spain can go it alone.”