On 24th February 2017 the Foreign and Commonwealth Office hosted a Brexit Focus Group Meeting at the Centro Cultura in La Cala de Mijas.
Brexpats in Spain were invited to put a group of around 15 people together to attend the event. Our group consisted of a cross section which included retirees, small business owners, people with families as well as our lawyers and Giles Tremlett a journalist and author who writes for The Guardian and Economist. Giles travelled down from Madrid to be with us at the meeting. Also in attendance were participants from other Expat Groups, Local Businesses as well as Local Press.
Julia Longbottom, The Director of Consular Services travelled from London to Chair the meeting she was accompanied by Gerard McGurk Consular Regional Director for Southern Europe, Charmaine Arbouin Consular Regional Operation Manager for Andalucía and Rosslyn Lloyd Vice-Consul for Andalucía. A contingent from the Department for Exiting the European Union were invited to attend but were unable to do so. It is hoped that they will attend future such events.
The Mayor of Mijas, Juan Carlos Maldonado introduced himself to the meeting confirming his ongoing support for Brexpats in Spain and the British residents in Spain.
Whilst there are still “No Answers” the meeting gave a valuable chance for concerned British Immigrants to put their Brexit worries and views directly to a face from the FCO. Subjects raised included Pension, Healthcare, and Employment, Maintaining a Business, Education, Qualifications and Family Life.
Julia Longbottom took everything she was told on board and made a firm commitment to us to take it back to London and ensure that it is disseminated to the correct areas. She reiterated that there are no answers yet. She also made a commitment to ensure these Focus Group Meeting would continue.
The one thing that was prominent at the meeting was the need for good reliable and up to date information. There are too many rumours, conflicting press reports and Chinese Whispers. This was taken on board and will be worked on to find a suitable solution.
Following the Focus Group Meeting, Brexpats in Spain gave a presentation at the La Cala Town Hall on the subject of obtaining Spanish Nationality, Wills, Inheritance and Employment.
Our Mayor of Mijas Juan Carlos Maldonado introduced himself to the meeting confirming his ongoing support for British Immigrants in Mijas, Brexpats and the work we are doing .
It was explained that the basic requirement for applying for Spanish Nationality as they stand at the moment include: –
10 years continuous Spanish Residency, to sit a written examinations in Spanish on Spanish Culture and Language as well as a Spanish oral exam/interview.
It was also further pointed out that as of this moment Spain does not allow dual nationality with the United Kingdom.
Giles Tremlett gave a briefing on the work he is doing with other groups regarding British Rights in Europe after Brexit and is actively working to ease the requirements for obtaining Spanish Nationality as well as change legislation that precludes British Nationals from holding dual nationality with Spain. Interestingly, Great Britain allows a Spanish National to hold dual Nationality with the UK.
Victoria Westhead (Lawyer) then gave a briefing on employment. Since 1993 EU Nationals have had the right to come to Spain, seek employment and work in Spain with the ability to have qualifications endorsed throughout Europe. The only exceptions to this is non Spanish Nationals are not permitted to take positions in areas such as the Police or Armed Forces.
Obviously we want to conserve our rights in Spain and work to the Spanish Government confirming this post Brexit.
Sarah Hawes explained that there has been recent changes in legislation that now give the opportunity for British Residents in Spain to change their Wills to include a clause stating that they wish to have the inheritance laws of their county of nationality applied to their Spanish Will . It should be stressed that this applies only to the rule of inheritance, Spanish Inheritance tax rules would still apply. It should also be noted that if you were to choose to take Spanish Nationality under the present rules whereby Dual Nationality with the UK is not permitted then this option would not be available.
Milada Fitzgerald reiterated to the meeting that if you live in Spain more than 183 day you are automatically deemed to be a Spanish Resident and must complete a Spanish Tax Return on which you must declare all pensions, income and interest etc. regardless of where you are receiving them. The Tax return must be completed by the end of June each year with your declaration covering the previous calendar year. Milada also reminded the meeting that Inheritance tax exists between spouses in Spain, the level of which varies dependant on region.
Brexpats in Spain President, Anne Hernández, then closed the meeting thanking everyone for their attendance.