Resumé of the meetings at Avanto Restaurant, La Cala de Mijas and Villa Matilde, Sabinillas, Manilva on 22 March 2018
Anne Hernández (La Cala de Mijas) – welcome and introduction to top table and a brief insight into the association BREXPATS IN SPAIN
Mayor of Mijas, Juan Carlos Maldonado – welcomed everyone and said he understood our concerns are not only financial but also personal. He stressed his support and said he is always ready to talk to Brits. He added that Mijas Council will continue to co-operate and support BREXPATS IN SPAIN in all they possibly can.
British Ambassador to Spain, Simon Manley – expressed his thanks to BREXPATS IN SPAIN for their transparent and honest collaboration and stressed the importance of the collaboration in helping to give genuine feedback on the concerns of the British residents in Spain. The information received means that the government is better informed. He also thanked mayors in Spain for their support. He explained that in the first phase in December 2017 the terms of departure were agreed in principle on citizens rights (those already living in the EU) would be maintained and continued contributions by the UK until departure from EU. This needs a draft treaty. There will be a transition period to start when we leave on 28 March 2019 until end December 2020, during which time we will continue to observe the rules of the EU, but have no say in it. He explained that there are 3 important issues – citizen’s rights, UK’s budget contribution to the EU and Northern Ireland which is a very complex issue. The issue of our citizen rights is now advanced in the negotiations but a few areas still need to be resolved though continue to progress.
He added that the UK recognises the worries of British residents in the EU and the EU residents in the UK. The agreement will enshrine our UK rights.
Currently negotiating mandates, with every other member states on finance, living, studying, working, education, residents, culture, research, development, trade, EU policing, security and people and these norms will continue to be observed. EU27 mandate to be agreed on this final draft and is the basis to start negotiations.
He said that Gibraltar will apply the same transitional period – we vote as one UK and we leave as one UK but there is daily contact with Gibraltar and Andalucian government. Some 8,000 Spanish crosses the border to work in Gibraltar
Questions from the floor –
Disenfranchised by the UK by no vote. The movement to work in another of the EU 27 and rights to continue has not been considered.
Mr. Manley said that they have been considered. If a working UK professional in Spain and that employment takes you to another EU27 country, then those forward movement rights will exist. He said that lifetime rights fall on the cusp of withdrawal and the UK doesn’t want to prejudge so needs to look at other EU27 agreements. He stated that after Brexit all rights were rejected by the European Parliament but the UK hopes to be able to push this through.
Loss of Art 32. After consultation, he said it was on the recommendation of EU parliament and was seen as a positive move.
Pensions would continue as now throughout EU, with increases.
Voting rights. Still, need a change in legislation. Private members bill currently scheduled.
Comments made about UK losing track of EU citizens. Online registration currently operational in UK. Still, nothing definite re 15-year rule as the UK will find it difficult to track and register legitimate voters abroad but it remains as a manifesto and will be discussed. It has to pass through the House of Commons and the House of Lords and can take 12 months so no guarantee can be made that it will be ready in time for the next UK elections.
When asked if we would still be entitled to vote in the municipal elections in May 2020 the Mayor of Mijas stated he would like everyone to have the right to vote and decided by individual agreements rather than EU law. Spanish MEP Esteban Pons is pushing for the UK right to vote in EU elections – either with EU or bilateral agreement. Simon Manley said that this right did not derive from EU law. Anne Hernández said that given that it did not derive from EU law she will speak to the Councils and look to organise a campaign to ensure that we do still have this right. Both she and Simon Manley stressed the importance of being on the padrón because it will serve as proof of our residency here prior to Brexit.
Charmaine Arbouin answered the questions on reciprocal healthcare and frozen pensions. She said that if on S1 or paying into the Social Security or as a holidaymaker using the EHIC this will continue as now and indefinitely. Pensions will not be frozen. The UK government took the decision to not treat UK residents in the EU any differently to those who live outside of the EU.
Simon Manley, when asked about our inability to open UK bank accounts without a UK address, had no answer. He was unaware of this but he and Charmaine Arbouin, British Consul to Andalucia and the Canaries, promised to investigate and feedback.
One member asked if we drop out of the EU without a deal, what will happen to us? Simon Manley answered that we are not negotiating for that. It is not our intention and is unlikely to happen.
A retired person (not a pensioner) asked if he would be able to take up the S1 health system when he reaches pensionable age if that occurs after Brexit. Charmaine Arbouin assured him this is possible.
Miguel Checa, a professor at the Law College – explained that EU law remains in place until 1/1/2021. He thinks there will be bilateral agreements – possible Swiss model? He also thinks Spain will use veto over Gibraltar. Mooted joint use of the airport. He spoke at length on EU right of succession which applies in Spain on inheritances and said Brits can use a clause in their Spanish will asking for assets to be dealt with under British law.
With thanks to Judy Filmer for helping me compile these notes.
BREXPATS IN SPAIN