Category: British Consulate

Resumé of the meetings at Avanto Restaurant, La Cala de Mijas and Villa Matilde, Sabinillas, Manilva

Resumé of the meetings at Avanto Restaurant, La Cala de Mijas and Villa Matilde, Sabinillas, Manilva

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.

Anne Hernández

President

BREXPATS IN SPAIN

THE JOINT NATIONALITY CAMPAIGN FOR  PRE-BREXIT BRITISH RESIDENTS IN SPAIN

THE JOINT NATIONALITY CAMPAIGN FOR PRE-BREXIT BRITISH RESIDENTS IN SPAIN

A 2018 CAMPAIGN IN THE SPANISH PARLIAMENT and EUROPEAN COURTS

The current agreement on Citizens Rights is clearly unsatisfactory. It does not conserve our current rights. Amongst other problems, it leaves us landlocked – i.e. if we, or our children, leave Spain to live elsewhere in the EU we lose the rights that come with our special status as pre-Brexit residents of the EU. This can be resolved by giving long-term UK residents in Spain the same right that is enjoyed by long-term Spanish residents in the UK – the right to joint nationality.

AIMS

The Joint Nationality Campaign, which has 20,000 supporters on change.org, seeks a special joint nationality law for UK citizens living in Spain before Brexit.

THIS IS BEING PURSUED TWO WAYS:

1/ The Spanish parliament is being asked to pass a “special case” joint nationality law.

2/ The Court of Justice of the EU (CJEU) in Luxembourg is being asked to rule on whether Spain must, in any case, offer joint nationality.

The campaign has three fronts

1/ Political.  A proposición de ley for a special law offering joint nationality to long-term pre-Brexit UK residents in Spain is being drawn up. We will be seeking a political party (or several) to sponsor it through parliament. We also want town halls, regional parliaments, prominent individuals and political parties to express support.

2/ Legal. We are taking a case to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in Luxembourg. One of Spain’s top law firms is doing this pro bono (without charging) and law professors from around Europe are forming an academic support group.

We are now urgently seeking volunteers to join the case. They would be UK citizens who are already going through the process of seeking Spanish nationality or have been offered it in the last six months. Our volunteers will explicitly refuse to renounce UK nationality. That will lead to their case being referred to the court in Luxembourg.

3/ Media.

  • Keep people in UK/Spain aware that the Citizens Rights have not been resolved.
  • Put pressure on legislators to pass a joint nationality law.

THE LEGAL CASE FOR JOINT NATIONALITY:

SUING SPAIN

Background

  • Spanish law allows Spaniards in the UK to claim joint nationality but bars UK citizens in Spain from doing so.
  • More than half of Spain’s 200,000 annual nationality concessions are for joint nationality (mostly Latin Americans, who enjoy this right for historical reasons).
  • Spanish law has recently made exceptions for Sephardic Jews and for International Brigade veterans from the Spanish Civil War (including those with UK citizenship), allowing them joint nationality.
  • UK citizens seeking Spanish nationality must pledge to renounce their UK citizenship. If they don’t, they can have Spanish nationality withdrawn.
  • Under-18s can’t renounce UK nationality – so children can’t legally become Spanish in any case.

Legal arguments

  • This set of rules is discriminatory, disproportional and provokes a “risk of loss” by taking rights away from EU citizens, especially in the Brexit situation.
  • Spain will reply by arguing that nationality is a sovereign issue.
  • We will argue that nationality stops being a sovereign issue when it contravenes EU rights.

STRATEGY

For a case to be referred to Luxembourg, it must first go to a Spanish judge – who refers it, or not, to the CJEU. This can be done in two ways:

1/ A UK citizen who has applied for Spanish nationality refuses to renounce their UK citizenship and is, therefore, turned down by Spain. That is then challenged in court and redirected to Luxembourg. The process of applying (and being able, at the end of it, to refuse to renounce UK citizenship) takes about two years. We are looking for people who applied a year or more ago

2/ Someone given Spanish nationality in the last six months (the “grace” period during which they are meant to go through the formal process of renouncing their citizenship in the UK) tells a court that they have decided that they will not now renounce UK nationality. That is then challenged in court and redirected to Luxembourg.

WHAT BREXPATS IN SPAIN CAN DO

  • Adopt and publicly back the campaign for joint nationality
  • Help find volunteers to join the law case
  • Ask town halls and regional governments to debate and vote for motions expressing public support for the proposición de ley on joint nationality
  • Raise awareness in the media

BREXPATS IN SPAIN has been explicitly asked to collaborate in this fight to allow us to qualify for joint nationality.  To make this happen we do need your support. 

You can email us at info@brexpats.es 

We continue working to defend our rights here in Spain.

Anne Hernández

President

Meeting with Simon Manley British Ambassador to Spain

Meeting with Simon Manley British Ambassador to Spain

Following a very informative presentation by Simon Manley (British Ambassador to Spain) in Málaga on 30 June 2017 organised by Lidera and Sur we were privileged to have a very lengthy (one hour) personal meeting with him and Charmaine Arbouin, the British Consul to Andalucia and the Canaries.

We addressed several issues:

BREXPATS IN SPAIN – The first issue we should like to address is the lack of information. In over one year we have no more information, we are no more aware of our position post Brexit nor even when the official date of Brexit is. I have commented repeatedly that there is no information being released and all this speculating and newspaper scaremongering does little to help the situation. If the government has no information then please say so publicly and some of the unfounded worries of our members might be allayed, especially the pensioners who are already at their wit’s end worrying about their already limited futures and I believe that is that is positively cruel. We are not politically biased but most of our members are very angry and feel totally overlooked, we deserve answers.

SIMON MANLEY and Charmaine accepted that this has been a problem and asked how we could address it. We had raised our concerns in the past and we agreed to collaborate closely with FCO, to have links to them on our website and to receive information from them as soon as it became public. Charmaine commented that the Embassy does have a Facebook page but it has not been updated to reflect the latest government offer published on 26 June 2017 although she would look into this because she realises that social media serves an important service in diffusing information to the masses.


BREXPATS IN SPAIN – Our members have posted questions for me to put to you and I apologise if some might seem rather angry but I do think it is understandable given the circumstances. Would you mind if I read them for you to answer?

SIMON MANLEY agreed and proceeded to answer each question.  Protection for healthcare and pensions is appreciated, if it is protected, but is anything going to be done about our freedom of movement in Europe and the EU citizenship? It is not a reciprocal issue as no freedom of movement is required for EU immigrants in the UK.

SIMON MANLEY said that until the final agreements are reached with the other EU27, nothing can be cast in stone though the UK is hopeful that such an agreement will be reached.

 Does the Embassy have the old UK/Spain bilateral agreement which is believed was never rescinded and offers a bottom line on Social Security arrangements?

SIMON MANLEY stated that the UK is looking for agreement with the EU as a whole and not bilateral agreements as yet.  Dual citizenship

SIMON MANLEY said that the UK already recognises dual citizenship but whether Spain chooses to reconsider its position on dual nationality is a separate issue. He added that it is a very complex issue and has many historical implications.  How will the British government define how those already in Spain retain their residential status – padrón, residente comunitario under Art 3.3 and 7.1 Decreto Real 240/2007?

SIMON MANLEY said that this will form part of the negotiation process and promised to update us in due course.  Is all this British dithering an intentional ploy because it is hoping that Brexit won’t happen?

SIMON MANLEY commented that the withdrawal from the EU is a hugely complicated business which perhaps isn’t fully understood and he hopes the government’s 26 June policy paper ‘Safeguarding the position of EU Citizens Living in the UK and UK Citizens Living in the EU’ further explains and clarifies this. He added that there has been an enormous amount of work undertaken behind the scenes. BREXPATS IN SPAIN interjected by commenting that perhaps we have not been made aware of this which is why we feel overlooked and reiterated the need for information from the British government.  Many believe that the UK’s proposal is not only vague but flawed and requires clarification. The small insertion in the UK paper affects those whose pensions will be based on contributions aggregated between the UK and EU countries. Paragraph 43 states that only contributions made before Brexit would be aggregated. The current proposals say that only contributions made before exit (ie the date the UK leaves the EU, not A50 day) will be aggregated with contributions made in other EU countries to form one pension. If this goes into the final deal then contributions made in an EU country after exit day would not be aggregated with UK NI contributions, but would be paid instead as a separate pension. This is potentially serious as, for example, most countries have a minimum number of trimesters or years of contributions needed to pay a separate pension, so years of contributions could be lost. Is this correct?

SIMON MANLEY said this was a very good question but admitted he didn’t have the answer to this and agreed that we should send this question to The Department for exiting the European Union for their attention.  We, the UK immigrants in Spain, in Europe, have no British representation in the EU. We are more than 300,000 citizens holding British passports and have been loyal to our British government but not any more. We fiercely resent the government’s philanderings and oversight for us. We are delighted that your presentation earlier amended your 3 priorities which did not mention us and actually put us as the first priority.

SIMON MANLEY said that everything to do with Brexit includes the British immigrants in the EU and, of course, Spain, so it remains as his first priority.  Will those who have lived more than 15 years out of the UK ever get our right back to vote as was promised? We feel not only lied to but disenfranchised and betrayed.

SIMON MANLEY stated that he thinks it could happen eventually but it does not form part of the EU negotiations. The one main concern for the pensioners who make up nearly a third of UK immigrant residents is the potential loss of public healthcare and, ironically, it has nothing to do with the EU. It could be bilaterally agreed and would be so much cheaper for the UK to do so.

SIMON MANLEY commented that the 26 June policy paper expresses a firm intention to reach an agreement that will allow pensioners to continue with their healthcare in the EU and also for tourists to continue using the EHIC card though obviously the terms and wording of it will have to be amended and it is covered in the manifesto.  If I change my nationality and lose my wife, and become unwell myself with nobody here to care for me, it is inevitable that I should return to the UK to family. Would I still qualify as a British citizen and be entitled to medical care and other benefits?

SIMON MANLEY said that would only apply if you became a UK national. Charmaine also pointed our that if you formally renounce your British nationality in order to take on Spanish nationality, under most circumstances, you will be able to reapply and regain your British nationality – at a cost.  As a British pensioner resident here with my S1 I can get public healthcare. As a non-EU citizen post Brexit and, if I lose that right, I should like confirmation that it would mean that I still maintain that right in the UK and would be entitled to register with a UK doctor.

SIMON MANLEY stated that would only apply if you had a permanent address in the UK as a permanent resident there. The Spanish Social Security card would still be valid as a tourist for emergency healthcare and there is a commitment on the 26 June policy paper to retaining the S1 (or similar) arrangements.  Will you or your office please reply to the many emails our members sent last week following your video on Facebook? I am sorry to say that in this instance silence is not golden, it is tarnishing their opinions.

SIMON MANLEY promised a reply would be sent as soon as possible. He is aware of all the emails he has received.  Will pension increases be maintained?

SIMON MANLEY said that the 26 June policy paper quite clearly deals with pensions and the increases will be maintained.  Residency rights. How will the start of residency be determined from issue of Residency Card, Padrón etc and when will the cut off date be determined?

SIMON MANLEY commented that this would form part of the negotiations.  Bilateral agreement between UK and Spain in default of agreement between EU and UK.

SIMON MANLEY said that was still to be considered although they are quite confident that an agreement will be reached with the EU.  Inheritance tax implications. Non EU nationals are in a worse position. Will there be a cut-off date when inheritance tax for non EU nationals applies?

SIMON MANLEY said that is was not yet clear what would happen, but he would endeavour to keep us informed.  Driving and importing of vehicles, transporting pets. Is the government aware of the many implications on us as British immigrants in the EU?

SIMON MANLEY confirmed the need for us to keep them informed, especially of any personal but important issues we become aware of. He appreciates the many repercussions on us and assures us that the government wants to make it as easy a transition as possible. Mutual recognition of qualifications.

SIMON MANLEY said that a part of the 26 June policy paper deals with this in detail and he is confident that there will be an agreement reached for mutual recognition of British and EU qualifications.  Spain is only just now coming out of a very difficult economic recession but is already unfairly economically suffering some of the Brexit implications – people who were on the verge of investing in a business here are waiting for fear of what might happen, fewer British property buyers and less permanent employment is being offered to British here. Not to say we are not patriotic to our own birth country but it grieves us to see Spain start to suffer as a result of our doing.

SIMON MANLEY repeated that one of his priorities is to maintain good relations with Spain and added that it is not in our interest or our intention to financially harm any of the EU27.  Many of us are not political animals but Brexit has understandably generated a lot of political interest and sadly, seems to have given a carte blanche to openly express dislike of certain people if they didn’t vote in the same way or if they look or think differently. Brexit is going to affect us all, no matter what our political opinion is and we need to start working together to support each other and BREXPATS IN SPAIN wants to work with you but we do need to start collaborating.

SIMON MANLEY once again appreciated our offer and said he looked forward to our future and close collaboration. He said it is important that the government remains in touch with the people and since we are at grass roots level, he will rely on us to help them do just that.  And finally, BREXPATS IN SPAIN is now represented in Alicante, Valencia, the Canaries and, with Charmaine Arbouin’s help, hopefully in the Balearics. I should therefore like to extend a personal invitation to you to be our Guest Speaker at Alicante University towards the end of the year or early 2018.

SIMON MANLEY confirmed in principle that he or a senior representative from the Embassy would be happy to attend.

BREXPATS IN SPAIN comment following the meeting – The team came away from the meeting feeling quite elated and much more confident of the UK’s concern for us as British immigrants in the EU. They acknowledge our criticism of the lack of information forthcoming and will make positive steps to avoid this in the future and to keep us updated and we shall share that information with our members.  We appreciate Mr Manley’s time to meet with us and his honesty in answering the many questions we posed and issues we discussed. We also now appreciate more the enormous amount of work involved by all parties with regards to our exit from the EU.  We eagerly anticipate a close collaboration with FCO. One of our main goals has been to separate the fact from the fiction and this collaboration should enable us to do just that and continue to update our members of factual information, as and when we receive it.

Anne Hernández

President

BREXPATS IN SPAIN

GuardarGuardar

GuardarGuardar

GuardarGuardar

GuardarGuardar

UK elections June 8 Register to Vote

UK elections June 8 Register to Vote

Use this service to apply to register to vote or to:

  • update your name, address or other details on the electoral register
  • change your voting preferences, for example to vote in person or by post
  • change whether you’re on the open register

It usually takes about 5 minutes.

This service is also available in Welsh (Cymraeg).

You may need the following, if you have them:

  • your National Insurance number
  • your passport if you’re a British citizen living abroad

You need to be on the electoral register to vote in elections and referendums

If you are eligible find out how here:-

https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote?utm_source=Overseaspartners&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=OS17

Manilva Seminar 21st April 2017

Brexit meeting in Manilva on 21st April 2017 with Brexpats in Spain, the British Consul in Spain, Local Mayors, Citizens Advice in Spain and other panel members.

Brexit Seminar in Manilva

Friday 21st April at 7pm

Order of the Meeting

7 pm – Reception

7:30 – Introduction by Dean Tyler Shelton and a few words from the Mayors of Manilva and Casares, Marion Jimenez and Pepe Carrasco

7:45 – Charmain Arbouin – British Consul to Andalucia and the Canary Isles

7:55 – Derek A Langley Andalucia Vice President British Chamber of Commerce – Spain

8:05 Anne Hernandez – President Brexpats in Spain Association

8:15 Myra Azzopardi – Citizens Advice Bureau Spain Association

8:25 – Holabank

8:35 Alex Radford – My Lawyer in Spain

8:45 Questions and Answers

8:55 Aperitif and Finger Food