Lloyd Milen, Consul General for the Balearics hosted a Brexit meeting today at San Antonio town hall for British nationals living in Ibiza, the meeting was well attended by over 50 people mainly of retirement age.
The message from the British Consulate was upbeat and Lloyd opened the meeting by saying that the British government recognised how emotive the issue was but some clarity is now starting to emerge. He also stressed how important the feedback was from these meetings of which he and his colleagues had undertaken over 70 in recent weeks. Indeed, one point that was raised at a similar meeting in Palma is now part of David Davies’ negotiating process.
Milen explained that Brexit negotiations are very complex with an ‘immense amount of work’ being done by the UK government. He also clearly stated that although negotiations are ongoing it’s important to remember that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’.
His message was that the Spanish authorities are keen to help and are working in everyone’s best interests, Lloyd pointed out that Spanish Foreign Minister Alfonso Dastis recently appeared on BBC1’s ‘Andrew Marr Show’ and when asked about the Brexit situation between the 2 countries he said “We will make sure that the lives of the UK people in Spain is not disrupted, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one” he continued, saying “17 million Brits come to Spain every year and many of them live and retire over here and we want to keep it that way as much as possible”.
The more detailed areas that were talked about were as follows
1. Healthcare: it has been agreed in principle that the EHIC card will be replaced by something similar so UK visitors are covered by a reciprocal agreement when visiting Spain
2. The British Government currently pays the Spanish government over 3000 euros per year per pensioner for healthcare while they live in Spain and this totals over 200 million euros. Even though this comes under an EU directive the deal is private between the 2 countries and this will continue.
3. There is a broad agreement that existing UK state pensions won’t be frozen for UK residents living in Spain and that pensions can continue to be ‘pooled’ where contributions are from 2 or more countries.
4. The conditions for people of ‘working age’ are due to be negotiated at a later date.
5. There’s a will between both countries to continue with reciprocal working practices.
6. The UK is looking to bring in a register for EU nationals living and working in the UK, similar to the padron system in Spanish municipal towns.
7. Anybody thinking of changing to Spanish Nationality should seek legal advice as this has far reaching consequences especially for pensions and inheritance.
8. The British Consulate stressed that the single most important thing was to make sure all British nationals had their Spanish paperwork in order so that your rights as a Spanish resident are protected.
9. With regards to point 8 it’s very important to renew your ‘padron’ with your local council EVERY YEAR to ensure you are still in the system especially if you have had no recent dealings with your local town hall.
10. The best place to seek out the correct information isn’t sensationalist stories on the press front page but from the website www.gov.uk which details of all ongoing negotiations plus a mailing list with all Brexit updates as they happen.
11. The Facebook page ‘Brits in Spain’ is also a good source of information straight from the horse’s mouth.
12. Taxation laws have nothing to do with BREXIT
13. The British make up the majority of foreign nationals living in Spain so the Spanish government has done more than any other country with respect to negotiations.
14. Spain has indicated that they want British nationals to be able to continue to vote in municipal elections but this has yet to be confirmed.
Overall the information that flowed was of more detail than the curious meeting earlier in the year where most questions were answered with ‘we don’t know yet’. Although anything can happen in politics it appears that negotiations are moving on well with plenty of goodwill on both sides. The British Consulate again stressed the importance of following news on the Gov.uk website and promised updates whenever was appropriate.