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MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS

The Spanish municipal elections are held every 4 years and in Spain the next ones will be on Sunday 26 May 2019. 

There are over 1,000 seats in the 38 Provincial Deputations, over 8,000 Municipalities (boroughs) and over 67,000 Councillors to be elected.

In the Spanish municipal elections immigrants belonging to the EU and resident in Spain are able to vote.  You must be at least 18 years old and registered on the Electoral Census.  

Immigrants from other countries – Bolivia, Colombia, Chile, Ecuador, Perú, Paraguay, Trinidad and Tobago, Norway, Iceland, Cape Verde, New Zealand and the Republic of Korea are also able to vote provided:

  • They are of age
  • They are legal residents in Spain during at least 5 years at the time of registering on the Electoral Census, except in the case of Norway which require 3 years and people from New Zealand are entitled to vote without an attached minimum time restriction
  • They can vote solely in the borough where they live and where they are on the Padrón.

For anybody to vote in the local elections it is essential that you are on the Padrón in the borough where you live and registered on the Electoral Census.  This has to be done by December 2018.  It is not sufficient to just be on the Padrón, you must also apply at your local town hall to be on the electoral register.

Some weeks before the elections the Electoral Office will send a voting card by post to all citizens who are registered. This card will show where you have to go to vote, the section and the electoral table. You will need to take your NIE and Passport (not copies).  Postal votes are also possible but more on that nearer the time.

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO VOTE IN THE LOCAL ELECTIONS?

In the first place, your vote counts, the same as everybody else’s and it is unique to you – it is YOUR way of expressing your opinion.  You are voting on who will represent your borough, the political party, elected Mayor and his team of Councillors.  

From central government each borough is allocated (as per the number who are on the Padrón) an amount of money to spend on the locality – emergency services (police, ambulance, fire), medical centres, schools, roads and paths, parks and gardens, public transport, the elderly, animal welfare, beaches, general improvements, staffing of public services, ferias etc so your vote will determine how pleasant, well kept and convenient your surroundings will be.  We all want to live in beautifully maintained surroundings so your vote is important.

The date in May 2019 is 2 months after we cease to officially be EU citizens so it is very likely that we will not be able to vote.  For those of us who have been here longer than 15 years, we cannot vote in the UK elections, as a non-EU citizen we will not be able to vote in the EU elections nor in the local Spanish elections.  We shall be totally disenfranchised!  

Our British Ambassador in Spain is helping us with this and has already forwarded copies of our campaign to number 10, Cabinet Office, DexEU and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office and he has raised it with the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs.  We need to continue to raise awareness with the Spanish councils and then, with their support, take it to the top!

Although we have a lot of support for this so far, we need you to show your support for our campaign to allow us to vote in the Spanish local elections, time is of the essence so go to our website www.brexpats.es download the letter, add your name and NIE and forward to your local town hall – we are asking the UK and Spain to constitutionally recognise our right to vote.  

OUR CAMPAIGN – VOTING RIGHTS.

OUR CAMPAIGN – VOTING RIGHTS.

OUR LOCAL VOTING RIGHTS IN SPAIN – how can you help?

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As of 29 March 2019 and officially non-EU citizens, we probably won’t be able to vote in the Spanish local elections in May 2019 and those British residents here who have so ably represented us on Spanish local councils may well find themselves prohibited from standing in the municipal elections after our departure from the EU, despite being wanted on their local council and nominated in December / January.

This right to vote here has not been properly considered yet so we need to ensure that the situation is identified and solved well before the end of this year. It looks like Spain and the UK will need to sign a bilateral agreement which will enable us to vote in the Spanish local elections and vice versa post-March 2019. 

Spain already has a bilateral arrangement with a number of other non-EU countries and we want them to agree the same arrangement for us as British residents in Spain. We have received no resistance to this proposal yet from any Council we have spoken to so how can you help?

Our British Ambassador has already raised it with the Spanish MFA and with London – No 10, Cab Off, DexEU and FCO. 

We need to raise awareness and gain support for this here and time is pressing so please go to our website www.brexpats.es and copy and forward the letter written in Spanish to your local Town Hall.  

Together we can make this happen!

TRANSLATION OF LETTER –

As you all know, on 29 March 2019 the UK will leave the EU.  From that date, the British will cease to be citizens of the EU.

We are many British residents here in Spain and we want to continue with the right to vote in the local elections but as non-EU citizens, it is likely we will not be able to.  Furthermore, there are many British Councillors in the Spanish Town Halls who represent us here and they will not be able to offer themselves for election.

Since 2011 Spain already has bilateral agreements with other countries – Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Columbia, South Korea, Ecuador, Iceland, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago for whom reciprocal voting rights are recognized in the local elections and we want the same agreement and for it to be constitutionally recognised.

We need the help of all the Spanish boroughs to be able to achieve this and that is why we request your help.

 

BREXPATS-VOTING-RIGHTS-letter-to-town-halls

 

 

Our Local Voting Rights in Spain

Our Local Voting Rights in Spain

 

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There is a problem on the horizon that until very recently has been ignored, forgotten or just overlooked.  It is also an issue that some expats living here permanently don’t understand or maybe even care about but it is vital to our continued lifestyle in Spain and our integration into the Spanish life.

Despite the fact that the UK government has promised to restore our voting rights as expats for life it probably won’t happen until 2024. So for many of us we won’t be able to vote in the next election in the UK or maybe even the one after that and that is assuming it goes through Parliament in the first place.

Now what has been ignored or missed is that as of 29 March 2019 we probably also won’t be able to vote in the Spanish local elections in May 2019.

Worse still, those British expat residents who have so ably represented us on Spanish local councils may well find themselves prohibited from standing in the municipal elections after our departure from the EU on 29 March, despite being wanted on their local council and nominated in December / January.

So, no vote in the UK if out of the country for 15+ years, no vote in the EU elections and now no vote in the municipal elections here in Spain. We will be completely disenfranchised! It begs the question as to quite what we British residents in the EU stand for even though we proudly retain and defend our British passports.

This right to vote here has not been properly considered yet so we need to ensure that the situation is identified and solved well before the end of this year. It looks like Spain and the UK will need to sign a bilateral agreement which will enable us to vote in the Spanish local elections and vice versa post-March 2019. We’re also aware of the limited time we have left to sort this given the local elections in May 2019. 

Spain already has a bilateral arrangement with a number of other non-EU countries (Bolivia, Cape Verde, Chile, Columbia, South Korea, Iceland, Ecuador, Norway, New Zealand, Paraguay, Peru and Trinidad and Tobago) for voting in local elections. Both the UK and Spanish government have been made aware of how important and time sensitive this is.

BREXPATS IN SPAIN will be commencing a nationwide campaign to raise awareness of this issue. We will be working with Mayors, councils, local, national and international press and media, the English, Spanish and the EU. We are ably supported by the Ciudadanos, the Spanish political party, and have individual support from countless Spanish mayors but we need to also petition the UK government MP’s and parties.

This is a major task and we will need your support! You will be able to help us over the coming months without too much effort. Over the next few weeks please make sure you are registered on our website and keep watching for further details.

IF YOU LIVE IN SPAIN, HELP US TO HELP YOU!

Anne Hernández, President BREXPATS IN SPAIN 

Richard T Hill, Vice President BREXPATS IN SPAIN

https://elpais.com/elpais/2018/03/26/inenglish/1522053686_520168.html

EU Citizens: fundamental rights, security and justice

EU Citizens: fundamental rights, security and justice

EU citizens have the right to travel, live and work throughout the Union. An effective system has been put in place and is constantly evolving in order to fully implement these rights. The Charter of Fundamental Rights brings together in one single text all the rights of the individual, grouping them around several major principles: human dignity, fundamental freedoms, equality, solidarity, citizens’ rights and justice. All citizens have the right to petition Parliament on any matter in a field for which the Union is competent. The European Citizens’ Initiative enables citizens to promote the adoption of laws deemed necessary for the purpose of implementing the Treaties. The Lisbon Treaty introduced several new features to the area of freedom, security and justice, including a more efficient and democratic decision-making procedure, increased powers for the Court of Justice of the EU, and a new role for national parliaments.

The citizens of the Union and their rights

Individual citizens’ rights and European citizenship are enshrined in the Charter of Fundamental Rights of the European Union (EUCFR), the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU) and Article 9 of the Treaty on European Union (TEU). They are essential factors in the formation of a European identity. In the event of a serious breach of basic values of the Union, a Member State can be sanctioned.

Legal basis

Articles 2, 3, 7 and 9 to 12 of the TEU, 18 to 25 of the TFEU and 39 to 46 of the EUCFR (4.1.2.).

Objectives

EU law creates a number of individual rights directly enforceable in the courts, both horizontally (between individuals) and vertically (between the individual and the state). Inspired by the freedom of movement for persons envisaged in the Treaties, the introduction of a European form of citizenship with precisely defined rights and duties was considered as long ago as the 1960s. Following preparatory work which began in the mid-1970s, the TEU, adopted in Maastricht in 1992, made it an objective for the Union ‘to strengthen the protection of the rights and interests of the nationals of its Member States through the introduction of a citizenship of the Union’. A new part of the EC Treaty (ex Articles 17 to 22) was devoted to this citizenship.

Like national citizenship, EU citizenship refers to a relationship between the citizen and the European Union which is defined by rights, duties and political participation. This is intended to bridge the gap between the increasing impact that EU action is having on EU citizens, and the fact that the enjoyment of (fundamental) rights, the fulfilment of duties and participation in democratic processes are almost exclusively national matters. Article 15(3) of the TFEU gives every natural or legal person in a Member State the right to have access to the documents of the Union’s institutions, bodies and agencies. Article 16 of the TFEU enshrines the right to protection of personal data (4.2.8). Article 2 of the TEU provides that ‘the Union is based on the values of respect for human dignity, freedom, democracy, equality, the rule of law and respect for human rights, including the rights of persons belonging to minorities’.

Article 7 of the TEU takes over a provision from the earlier Treaty of Nice which establishes both a prevention mechanism, where there is ‘a clear risk of a serious breach’ by a Member State of the values referred to in Article 2 of the TEU, and a sanction mechanism, in the event of a ‘serious and persistent breach’ by a Member State of those values. In the first instance, the Commission would call upon the European Council to conclude, by unanimity, that there was such a risk (Article 7(2)). This would then set in motion a procedure that could lead to a Member State losing its right to vote in the Council. This mechanism was initiated for the first time in 2017 against Poland because of the reform of its Supreme Court.

Moreover, there is to be stronger protection of the rights and interests of Member States’ nationals/EU citizens in the Union’s relations with the wider world (Article 3(5) of the TEU).

Achievements

For a long time, the legal basis for citizens’ rights at EU level consisted essentially of the case law of the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). Since the entry into force of the Treaty of Lisbon and the EUCFR, the legal basis has been expanded to true European citizenship.

A.Definition of EU citizenship

Under Article 9 of the TEU and Article 20 of the TFEU, every person holding the nationality of a Member State is a citizen of the Union. Nationality is defined according to the national laws of that State. Citizenship of the Union is complementary to, but does not replace, national citizenship. EU citizenship comprises a number of rights and duties in addition to those stemming from citizenship of a Member State. In case C-135/08 Janko Rottmann v Freistaat Bayern, Advocate General Poiares Maduro at the CJEU explained the difference (paragraph 23):

‘Those are two concepts which are both inextricably linked and independent. Union citizenship assumes nationality of a Member State but it is also a legal and political concept independent of that of nationality. Nationality of a Member State not only provides access to enjoyment of the rights conferred by Community law; it also makes us citizens of the Union. European citizenship is more than a body of rights which, in themselves, could be granted even to those who do not possess it. It presupposes the existence of a political relationship between European citizens, although it is not a relationship of belonging to a people. (…) It is based on their mutual commitment to open their respective bodies politic to other European citizens and to construct a new form of civic and political allegiance on a European scale. It does not require the existence of a people, but is founded on the existence of a European political area from which rights and duties emerge. In so far as it does not imply the existence of a European people, citizenship is conceptually the product of a decoupling from nationality. As one author has observed, the radically innovative character of the concept of European citizenship lies in the fact that ‘the Union belongs to, is composed of, citizens who by definition do not share the same nationality’. On the contrary, by making nationality of a Member State a condition for being a European citizen, the Member States intended to show that this new form of citizenship does not put in question our first allegiance to our national bodies politic. In that way, that relationship with the nationality of the individual Member States constitutes recognition of the fact that there can exist (in fact, does exist) a citizenship which is not determined by nationality. That is the miracle of Union citizenship: it strengthens the ties between us and our States (in so far as we are European citizens precisely because we are nationals of our States) and, at the same time, it emancipates us from them (in so far as we are now citizens beyond our States). Access to European citizenship is gained through nationality of a Member State, which is regulated by national law, but, like any form of citizenship, it forms the basis of a new political area from which rights and duties emerge, which are laid down by Community law and do not depend on the State. (…) That is why, although it is true that nationality of a Member State is a precondition for access to Union citizenship, it is equally true that the body of rights and obligations associated with the latter cannot be limited in an unjustified manner by the former.’

Concerning the wish of the UK to leave the EU, a decision on the acquired rights of British nationals resident in other Member States, and of EU citizens living in the UK, has to be made. Over the years, each Member State has vested its nationals with a legal heritage of rights, and EU law also creates a number of individual rights directly enforceable in the courts, according to the jurisprudence of the CJEU (Van Gend & Loos). Limits of that legal heritage could be seen as resting with the national law that gives them effect. Should the UK repeal bill rescind the effects of the Treaties, they could in principle no longer be invoked in UK courts.

B.Substance of citizenship (Article 20 of the TFEU)

For all EU citizens, citizenship implies:

  • The right to move and reside freely within the territory of the Member States (Article 21 of the TFEU) (4.1.3);
  • The right to vote and to stand as a candidate in elections to the European Parliament and in municipal elections (Article 22(1) of the TFEU) in the Member State in which they reside, under the same conditions as nationals of that State (for the rules on participation in municipal elections see Directive 94/80/EC of 19 December 1994, and for the rules governing election to the European Parliament, see Directive 93/109/EC of 6 December 1993) (1.3.4);
  • The right to diplomatic protection in the territory of a third country (non-EU state) by the diplomatic or consular authorities of another Member State, if their own country does not have diplomatic representation there, to the same extent as that provided for nationals of that Member State;
  • The right to petition the European Parliament (Article 24(2) of the TFEU) and the right to apply to the Ombudsman (Article 24(3) of the TFEU) appointed by the European Parliament concerning instances of maladministration in the activities of the EU institutions or bodies. These procedures are governed respectively by Articles 227 and 228 of the TFEU (1.3.16 and4.1.4);
  • The right to write to any EU institution or body in one of the languages of the Member States and to receive a response in the same language (Article 24(4) of the TFEU);
  • The right to access European Parliament, Council and Commission documents, subject to certain conditions (Article 15(3) of the TFEU).

C.Scope

With the exception of electoral rights, the substance of Union citizenship achieved to date is to a considerable extent simply a systematisation of existing rights (particularly as regards freedom of movement, the right of residence and the right of petition), which are now enshrined in primary law on the basis of a political idea.

By contrast with the constitutional understanding in European states since the French Declaration of Human and Civil Rights of 1789, no specific guarantees of fundamental rights are associated with citizenship of the Union. Article 6 of the TEU states that the Union recognises the rights set out in the EUCFR and that it will accede to the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, but it does not make any reference to the legal status of Union citizenship.

Union citizenship does not as yet entail any duties for citizens of the Union, despite the wording to that effect in Article 20(2) of the TFEU. This constitutes a major difference between EU citizenship and citizenship of a Member State.

D.European Citizens’ Initiative (4.1.5)

Article 11(4) of the TEU provides for a new right for EU citizens: ‘Not less than one million citizens who are nationals of a significant number of Member States may take the initiative of inviting the European Commission, within the framework of its powers, to submit any appropriate proposal on matters where citizens consider that a legal act of the Union is required for the purpose of implementing the Treaties’. The conditions governing the submission and admissibility of any such initiative by citizens are set out in Regulation (EU) No 211/2011 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Its main provisions are described in 4.1.5.

Role of the European Parliament

In electing the European Parliament by direct suffrage, EU citizens are exercising one of their essential rights in the European Union, that of democratic participation in the European political decision-making process (Article 39 of the EUCFR). As regards the procedures for the election of its Members, Parliament has always called for the implementation of a uniform electoral system in all the Member States. Article 223 of the TFEU provides that Parliament shall draw up a proposal to that effect (‘to lay down the provisions necessary for the election of its Members by direct universal suffrage in accordance with a uniform procedure in all Member States or in accordance with principles common to all Member States’). The Council will then lay down the necessary provisions (acting unanimously and after obtaining the consent of the majority of the Members of the EP), which will enter into force following their approval by the Member States in accordance with their respective constitutional requirements (1.3.4).

Parliament has always wanted to endow the institution of EU citizenship with comprehensive rights. It advocated the determination of citizenship on an autonomous Union basis, so that EU citizens would have an independent status. In addition, from the start it advocated the incorporation of fundamental and human rights into primary law and called for EU citizens to be entitled to bring proceedings before the CJEU when those rights were violated by EU institutions or a Member State (resolution of 21 November 1991).

During the negotiations on the Treaty of Amsterdam, Parliament again called for the rights associated with EU citizenship to be extended, and it criticised the fact that the Treaty did not make any significant progress on the substance of citizenship, either in regard to individual or to collective rights.

In accordance with Parliament’s requests, Article 263(4) of the TFEU stipulates that any natural or legal person may institute proceedings against an act addressed to that person or which is of direct and individual concern to him or her, and against a regulatory act which is of direct concern to him or her and does not entail implementing measures.

As regards the right of access to documents, on 17 December 2009 Parliament adopted a resolution on improvements needed in the legal framework for access to documents following the entry into force of the Lisbon Treaty. Among other things, it stressed the need to widen the scope of Regulation (EC) No 1049/2001 to encompass all the institutions and bodies not covered by the original text.

As regards the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI), three months after the submission of a citizens’ initiative, Commission representatives meet the organisers, and the organisers also have the opportunity to present their initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament. The hearing is organised by the committee responsible for the subject matter of the ECI (Rule 211 of Parliament’s Rules of Procedure).

As regards triggering the sanction mechanism provided for in Article 7 of the TEU against a Member State, Parliament has both a right of initiative (Article 7(1)), by means of which it can call for the first of these mechanisms to be applied, and a right to exercise democratic control, as it must consent to their implementation (Article 7(2)).

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

Letter sent to Brexpats from Tom Blake – Lib Dem MP

Letter sent to Brexpats from Tom Blake – Lib Dem MP

RECEIVED TODAY FROM TOM BRAKE, LIB DEMS

Dear Anne Hernandez

Thank you for your letter regarding your organisation, Brexpats in Spain. May I first congratulate you on establishing and running such a successful group. Your work is incredibly valuable for many UK citizens who, as you rightly point out, are not given adequate information regarding Brexit and who feel disillusioned by the Government’s agenda for a hard Brexit.

So far, it has taken the Government 21 months to make any sort of progress in the negotiations with the EU. The process, characterised by arrogance and on-going splits in the cabinet, has been highly inefficient and embarrassing. It is worth noting that 24 hours after an outline withdrawal agreement had been struck (8 December 2017), David Davis made a remark jeopardising all of the progress made, by claiming that the agreement, covering citizen rights, the divorce bill and promises around the Irish border, was a “statement of intent” rather than something legally enforceable. This is just the latest example of the Government’s incapability of putting the national interest ahead of their party’s interest.

That is why it’s important for the Liberal Democrats to give not only Parliament but also the British people a say on the final deal. We are pushing the Government for a public vote on the deal at the end of the negotiations, so people are given a choice to vote for that deal or to remain in the EU (amendment 120 to the Bill). The British people should be allowed to decide, in a referendum, whether it is the right deal for them, their families, their jobs and our country. As we all know by now, the ‘Leave’ campaign was based on lies, such as an extra £350 million a week for the NHS, new trade deals ready to be signed on the day of departure from the EU, and an ability to keep the exact same benefits as the UK currently has inside the Single Market and Customs Union once we are outside. These lies have now been exposed and it’s only fair to give the British people a “Vote on the Facts”. We welcome Sadiq Khan, London’s Labour Mayor, to our cause and hope that more grown-up politicians on all sides will join us.

The Liberal Democrats have also tabled amendments and are campaiging in order to ensure that all the existing rights of UK citizens residing in the EU and EU citizens residing in the EU are protected. It is unacceptable that these groups have been used as a bargaining chip by the Government in negotiations and the unfair uncertainty which is being brought to many people’s lives must end. I and the Liberal Democrats have campaigned extensively within Parliament in order to secure these rights.

Be reassured that I will continue to fight against a damaging, extreme version of Brexit. I will fight to uphold the rights of Brexpats currently in Spain and I hope that this response has reassured your members that the Liberal Democrats are on your side and fighting against Brexit back in the UK.

Regards

Tom Brake, MP
Liberal Democrat for Carshalton and Wallington
0208 255 8155