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Latest News | Brexpats | Fighting for Expats dealing with Brexit

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UK to have 18 months to strike Brexit deal

UK to have 18 months to strike Brexit deal

UK to have 18 months to strike Brexit deal

The UK will have less than 18 months to finalise its exit from the European Union once talks begin and won’t be allowed to pick and choose what it likes, said the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator on Tuesday.

Michel Barnier said that formal procedures such as parliamentary approvals across Europe will cut into the two-year period that Britain was expecting to have to negotiate the terms of its exit.

In his first press conference since taking the post, Barnier said: “Time will be short. It is clear that the period of actual negotiations will be shorter than two years.”

This comes after Theresa May voiced her intention to invoke Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty by March next year. A step that will officially start the 2-year countdown for the EU-UK divorce.

Still, Barnier warned that the effective negotiating time will be less, as an agreement will have to have been reached by October 2018, so as to ensure it is in place and enforced by March 2019 – exactly two years from the triggering of Article 50.

“The European Union is ready to receive the (article 50) notification,” Barnier said. “Keep calm and negotiate.”

However, May might find it difficult to trigger article 50, after a court last month decided that Parliament had to give its backing to such a move. The government is contesting the ruling in the Supreme Court, with critics warning of the serious societal instability if the ruling goes against the people’s vote to leave the EU.

Should it confirm that Parliament is to be involved in the process, May’s plans to begin the exit discussions could be delayed indefinitely.

Barnier, who spoke in English and French, said that Britain cannot “cherry pick” policies from the EU, asserting that the single market and its four freedoms, namely freedom of movement, are “indivisible”.

Craig Webb

Associate Wealth Manager
deVere Spain (Marbella)

The “Overton” Window

The “Overton” Window

I have never considered myself a ‘political animal’ and anybody who knows me finds my involvement, albeit on the fringe, quite incredible. But, as a member pointed out to me the other day, I have dipped my toe in the political world and, to be honest, I am finding it a rather interesting learning curve.

As President of my large (500 properties) community for what will be my 11th year now, I suppose I have always been involved at local level with town halls and I have quickly learnt the influence and clout that local borough councils have here. It’s quite unlike the English mayors who, although respected, are always busy opening fêtes and attending receptions; the mayors in Spain are responsible for the municipal budget. Now, bearing in mind they are voted in and might have little experience of budgets and public spending, that probably can cause problems because as we know, there has been so much corruption but the public is now better educated and less afraid to voice their doubts or disagreement, to ‘blow the gaffe’ so to speak!

So, the Referendum is called, I am already angered that I am not allowed to vote in something so historical as to whether the UK exits the EU and that is something that will affect my life and that of my family here in a fellow member state but I’ve lived in Spain for more than 15 years so wasn’t permitted to vote. Again, anybody who knows me will agree that when I get the bit between my teeth, I won’t willingly spit it out! Hence my involvement with Brexit and why I decided, with a couple of friends, to set-up our group BREXPATS IN SPAIN. However, I don’t think anybody will challenge me when I say that I am extremely democratic and respecting of others. That is something I find difficult to accept – the ‘them and us’ that Brexit has seemingly created. I might not like the result but I do respect it. As an educationalist and eternal student, I know how important it is to listen and learn. That’s the only way one can make an informed judgement. Human nature causes us to instantly form an opinion but it takes a humble person to learn and actually then admit to being wrong. I’m not perfect, of course, I wouldn’t be human, and I shall make mistakes or sometimes even say something I regret but I am never too big to admit that mistake and to learn from it but I will always stand my ground and defend the innocent, gullible or defenseless.

I was talking to a young man the other day and commenting that until the political parties can unite within, it is making it so difficult for us to feel a sense of loyalty to any one party. Gone are the days when we inherited our parents’ political view and unquestioningly voted for that same party because our ideals have changed. I said that my parents used to vote Labour then I came along, a bit of a rebel I suppose, because I bucked the family trend and decided to vote Conservative! Even at that young age I must have been destined for a career in education because my parents also changed their opinion and ended up voting Conservative too! And I said I wasn’t a political animal – I must be deluding myself! Anyway, this young man told me about the Overton Window so I decided to look into it. Joseph Overton devised the window back in the 90s for use in the media to explain the public’s acceptance or expectations of something. It identifies concepts as being Unthinkable, Radical, Acceptable, Sensible and Popular. Used in politics it ranges from the left (Socialist or Labour) to Right (Conservative) and the window should sit comfortably somewhere in the middle. Originally the left-wing supporters were the blue-collar workers of low economic earners and as the scale moves to the right, it goes to the right-wing status of the white collar more affluent society in the mid/upper class. The window defines what policies we will comfortably accept and vote for.

 

Over the years our perceptions have been awakened. We challenge, we do not just unwittingly accept, we aspire for better things rather than the humdrum 9 to 5 existence, we are more ambitious, and what was considered as acceptable, moderate or popular can now be perceived as radical or aspirational. In marketing terms, an aspirational brand is defined as something that a large section of a target audience wishes to own but given its limitations, might never own though still believe it is possible.
As a lecturer of tourism I can equate this to what I have seen with locals of very low incomes in tourist destinations who are envious of the wealthy tourists so try to emulate them. Years ago, my South African family told me how it was very much the done thing for the black locals to carry a briefcase! They probably had little in it but it served as a status symbol to show how well they were doing.

 

On the other side of the coin, to enable the poor locals to equal the wealthy visitors to their country, they prey on them or even steal from them. All quite unacceptable but further proof that our ambition has taken us beyond that comfortable middle line of the Overton Window.

Now we are experiencing this in the political world. Not content to settle on what we have, we are all aspiring for something that might improve our personal circumstances but we are divided in our opinions of how we should achieve it and until the very politicians of the same party can unite I fear that we will continue to succumb to the aggression, bitterness and hatred for those who do not share our opinions and delay our ever achieving it!

The Overton Window should have stamped out unethical journalism but given that the press is politically-biased it doesn’t leave much room for independent, unbiased reporting! The press today seems to delight in fuelling our dislike for others, propagating hate and the resulting attacks ensue. In my opinion, it really does have a lot to answer for!

Sadly, Joseph Overton omitted one very important word when he devised that window – the one word that should have been at the very centre of that scale, that of RESPECT!

 

 

 

Report of our Public Meeting Fuengirola 8 Nov 2016

Report of our Public Meeting Fuengirola 8 Nov 2016

For those of you who asked for a resumé of our public meeting in Fuengirola. With credit to Bernard Forbes for this report. A downloadable .pdf can be found here

Summary of the BREXPATS IN SPAIN public meeting held on

8th November 2016 at La Casa de la Cultura, Fuengirola at 6pm

Panel

Anne Hernández President, Brexpats in Spain
Rodrigo Romero Councillor for Culture, Foreign Residents, Tourism and Events, Ayuntamiento de Fuengirola
Glyn Emerton Secretary, Brexpats in Spain
Ana Argente Solicitor, Fuengirola
Milada Fitzgerald Area Manager, deVere Spain
Dirk Simonsz Orange Estates, Fuengirola
Other BREXPATS IN SPAIN members present – Kath Emerton, Julie Payne, Diego Lopez Torres

Opening welcome and remarks –
Anne Hernández opened the meeting by welcoming all present, in particular Councillor Rodrigo Romero from Fuengirola Town Hall, and supporters of the event – Milada Fitzgerald from deVere Spain, Dirk Simonsz from OrangEstates, Ana Argente and Golden Leaves and then gave a brief introduction to BREXPATS IN SPAIN which started as a small group in Mijas with support from the Mayor of Mijas, Juan Carlos Maldonado, and had rapidly grown a much larger following online and via Facebook.

The group was formed not to challenge the result of the UK Referendum on membership of the European Union, but to actively defend the acquired rights of British ex patriots living in Spain. She explained that BREXPATS IN SPAIN is a legal association but is non-political, non-profit making and non-protest and is intelligently lobbying and debating with politicians in the UK and Spain.

So far, there had been little or no acknowledgement of the impact of Brexit on UK citizens living in the EU, and the group aimed to garner support for our specific issues. She emphasised that without the support of the UK, as had been sadly evident in that over 700,000 British immigrants had been denied the opportunity to vote in the referendum given their absence of over 15 years, it was essential that we gain the support of Spain.
With regard to debate with Spanish authorities, the importance was stressed of complying with laws regarding immigrants, in particular the requirement for residents to register on the local municipal census (the “Padrón”), and to submit tax returns if living in Spain for longer than 180 days in each year.

It was stressed that the group would probably not have answers to any issues raised until the formal negotiations begin between the UK and the EU, but were collecting issues to put forward in future lobbying and to ensure that our rights as EU citizens are not overlooked in those negotiations. We feel like a forgotten group, out of sight and out of mind and that is why it is important that we all unite and support each other, no matter how we might have (or not) voted in the referendum because the result will affect us all in exactly the same way. Also, the opinions of contributors were their own and not necessarily those of the organisation they represented.

Councillor Rodrigo Romero
Councillor Romero apologised on behalf of Ana Maria Mula Redruello, Mayor of Fuengirola, who was still at the Town Hall in a council meeting. He also advised that the event was being recorded on video and would be broadcast on Thursday 10th November 2016 at 10pm.
He went on the say that Spain and Fuengirola were fully supportive of British ex patriots in the municipality. Fuengirola was home to some 130 or more different nationalities within its 10 km2, with 6,500 Britons registered on the Padrón (and more who were not registered).
He explained that: –

  • Registration on the local Padrón (census) was a legal requirement
  • The Padrón population count affected local councils’ funding from central government
  • Fuengirola, like many other councils, gave discounts on IBI (council tax), rubbish collection and car tax bills for people on the register
  • Access to schools, health care, local authority grants and other services depended on being registered.

A true indication of the foreign resident population was important for every Town Hall, particularly when negotiating for services specific to that population.
For Fuengirola, Councillor Romero advised that the existing Foreign Residents Department would shortly be relocating from the tourist information office to the Town Hall in order to give a better service in direct contact with other council departments.
Finally, he thanked everyone for attending the meeting.

Ana Argente
Ana introduced herself and outlined her areas of legal expertise. She stressed that registering at the Town Hall is not a “choice” but a “must” and that registration was important in case of any legal problems, for example

  • Obtaining cohabitation certificates from Town Halls
  • Proving last residence in case of divorce, death, or applying for legal aid
  • Proof of permanent residence, and many more.

Anne Hernández reinforced the previous speakers’ emphasis on registering on the Padrón; if say, as in 2015, there were 56,128 British residents registered on the Padrón in the province of Málaga (Instituto de Estadistíca y Cartografía de Andalucía, tabla Población extranjera por nacionalidad y sexo: UE (Padrón), 2015), there were likely the same number again who were resident, or on extended holidays, but not registered. She added that we Brits often misunderstand the purpose of the padron. Apart from being able to vote in the local elections if we then choose to, the funding from central government pays towards improving and maintaining our roads and paths, parks and gardens, emergency services – medical, fire and police, the schools and education and, on top of that, we get discounts for being on the padron so it’s a win-win situation and most certainly doesn’t mean that Big Brother is watching us. She also added that now for certain things we cannot avoid the padron – registering a car in our name, registering with a doctor etc. She said that the next time someone complains about potholes in the road, the first response should be to ask if they have registered on the padron!

Glyn Emerton
Glyn introduced himself and expressed his passionate concern that British citizens living in the EU should be involved in the process of Brexit. He had written a letter to a senior Member of Parliament in London who was hoped could be supported, but had not yet received a reply.
The initial meetings of Brexpats in Spain had allowed the group to collate core concerns which have been submitted to the British Consulate in Málaga, hopefully to go on to Madrid and then London.
There were meetings planned on 23 November at Lux Mundi in Fuengirola, at Age Care in Calahonda on 15th November, and at Nerja Town Hall on 25th November, with more in the pipeline. There were members of the Facebook group from far and wide, Mallorca, Tenerife, Cadiz, Almeria, Alicante and more. News and dates of meetings are publicised on the website www.brexpats.es as well as Facebook BREXPATS IN SPAIN.

Milada Fitzgerald

Milada gave viewpoints as an economist and financial adviser. Brexit could mean an end to the passporting of UK financial services to the EU, freedom of movement is also likely to end. Visas to travel to the EU (Schengen area) from the UK may be needed and, after 3 months in an EU country, a residency permit would need to be obtained. Some, none, or all of these things could happen.
On pensions, nothing was really known, but it was likely that EU based recipients of UK state pensions could lose the “triple lock” and have their pension incomes frozen the same as UK pensioners living in countries outside the EU. Thus, the full state pension of £119 a week might never increase.
Private pensions are normally frozen until the recipient reaches retirement age (which could rise to 70 by 2020). One piece of good news is that Spain now has the highest life expectancy in Europe at 83 years on average.
Automatic sharing of tax information between countries came into force in January 2016.
The Double Taxation Treaty between Spain and the UK could be revoked (note this is a bilateral agreement, not EU related although there are similar treaties between the UK and many other countries).
People who spend more than 180 days in Spain each year are classed as tax resident and must submit tax returns each year in Spain irrespective of where their income is from. Tax rates in Spain are different to the UK, as are things like personal allowances. Some people end up regarded as tax resident in both the UK and Spain dependent on their circumstances.
Modulo 720 – declaration of worldwide assets – forms also have to be submitted (and updated as necessary every year).
Car tax – Spanish police have access to UK DVLA information regarding UK registered vehicles and whether the tax has been paid. UK registered vehicles are only allowed to remain in Spain for 6 months.

Ana Argente

Ana stated that she will be supporting the next set of organised presentations on social security, healthcare, employment and pensions issues post Brexit – more details when available.
At present, contributions can be made in more than one EU state, with coordination across social security systems, each country contributes proportionally to an eventual pension although each country has different rules and rates. In the event of Brexit, the UK and Spain could consider a bilateral scheme where someone who has paid contributions to both systems could continue to have a single pension paid (and taxed) in Spain.
Healthcare arrangements differ between different EU states, although systems in Spain and the UK are similar. Post Brexit, access to all but emergency healthcare, or for expensive health interventions, in Spain might require prior authorisation from the UK.
UK pensioners living in Spain currently access Spanish healthcare systems via the UK S1 Form, the UK picks up the bill. For other Spanish foreign residents, access to healthcare relates to social security status as contributors/unemployed (or as holders of residencia dated prior to 24th April 2012).
Brexpats in Spain – progress on legal status as an association

Glyn Emerton explained that the group was going through the legal process of forming an association and by 11th November should be completed.

  1. Membership would be free
  2. Data protection registration will take place before asking people to join
  3. It will continue to be a not for profit organisation, but there are costs to be covered so the group will be looking for sponsorship.

Dirk Simonsz

Dirk gave an update on the Spanish property market. Whilst tourism was well up, people’s budgets were tighter. The property market had been slowly increasing over the past three years, but the number of British buyers was falling except amongst bigger investors who were moving into Euro value investments in property.
Importantly, the rights to buy or sell property in Spain are not likely to change as a result of Brexit.
Issues raised by the audience

Padrón
Certificates are only valid for 3 months; if proof is required, a valid certificate must be provided but an up-dated certificate can easily be obtained via the Town Hall.
Registration on the Padrón lasts until you notify the Town Hall you’ve moved elsewhere, (a new Spanish borough should notify the old one). On leaving the country, you should notify the Town Hall yourself as there is no other way they would get to know until they conduct a periodic survey to check if people are still there, add new residents.
Some Town Halls offer discounts on things like the annual IBI (council tax), rubbish fees, etc., but each borough offers different discounts.

Pensions and tax
Lifetime annuity pension schemes (“renta vitalicia”) are potentially tax efficient private pension schemes, consult a financial adviser.
Sterling – Euro Exchange fluctuation: none of the panel had a crystal ball as markets were unpredictable. deVere forecasts potential for parity between the pound and the euro in the short term, but this is all dependent on “news as it happens”, an example being a rise in the value of sterling after the UK High Court decision on triggering Article 50.
With the majority of pensioners on fixed incomes, would they still have access to bus passes, day centres and other services after Brexit? Until the UK left the EU, there was no idea what might happen.
It was unlikely that changes would happen to Spanish capital gains tax which remained better for pensioners than UK capital gains tax, but as non EU citizens it could happen.
Post Brexit status
People moved to Spain from the UK as Europeans, will authorities treat people the same as before?
Councillor Romero was optimistic on this one stating that people would always be welcome in Fuengirola and in Spain, a country that loves to be open to the world and that is used to diversity. Spain respected the UK decision, but also respected the rights of immigrants in the country. Things may not be as easy, perhaps 90% of things won’t change, and he highlighted that Europe had never been as peaceful as it has been since the EU.
Spanish / Dual nationality

Since the referendum, as a possible last resource to maintaining their rights here, growing numbers of people were interested in becoming naturalised Spanish citizens. There are a number of ways of achieving this including:

  • After 10 years of continuous residence in Spain, after passing language and socio cultural exams
  • Through having Spanish parent(s)
  • Through the “golden visa” by investing 500,000€ in property in Spain
  • By marriage to a Spanish national

At present, obtaining Spanish nationality requires relinquishing one’s British nationality, but lobbying is going on to press for dual nationality status as exists between other EU member states.

Probably the first course of its kind has been set up in Mijas at The Parnell Academy to help people pass the naturalisation exams from total beginners to those with some knowledge of the language but little knowledge of the sociocultural aspect and who feel they want to better integrate by understanding cultures and traditions of their adopted country of residence.
Triggering Article 50

After the high court ruling confirming the sovereignty of Parliament, there was little likelihood that Parliament would vote against leaving the EU. There was potential for a second referendum on Scottish independence as well as questions over Northern Ireland and Gibraltar.

Closing remarks
Anne Hernández thanked the Ayuntamiento de Fuengirola, Councillor Romero and the other panel members, the sponsors and most importantly the audience for attending the debate and welcomed the invitation to return again in the New Year.
The meeting closed at 7.30pm

With enormous gratitude to Bernard Forbes, our volunteer Minutes taker.

Brexit Officially Word of the Year – Collins dictionary

“Brexit” has emerged ahead of “Trumpism” and “hygge” to be named the word of the year by Collins after seeing an “unprecedented surge” in use.

The dictionary publisher said that Brexit saw its first recorded usage in 2013, but has since increased in use by more than 3,400% this year as the referendum approached in June, and as the ramifications have played out since. Such an increase, said Collins, is “unheard of” since it began monitoring word usage.

“‘Brexit’ is arguably politics’s most important contribution to the English language in over 40 years, since the Watergate scandal gave commentators and comedians the suffix ‘-gate’ to make any incident or scandal infinitely more compelling,” said Helen Newstead, Collins’s head of language content.

https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/nov/03/brexit-named-word-of-the-year-ahead-of-trumpism-and-hygge

Interview with Juan Carlos Maldonado – Mayor of Mijas

La Vanguardia, Spanish national newspaper interviews Sr Juan Carlos Maldonado Mayor of Mijas, speaking about how British expats are grouping together, organised by founding member, Anne Hernandez, Brexpats in Spain

Some 60.000 British residents in Malaga province are voicing their concerns about the future of their pensions and property, and also their access to health care provision.

http://www.lavanguardia.com/local/sevilla/20161026/411307548335/preocupacion-impacto-brexit-costa-del-sol-malaga.html

The BREXPATS IN SPAIN team and experts are embarking on presentations throughout Spain – WE ARE YOUR VOICE!

To find out more about our work please watch this website for updates, and also our Facebook group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/brexpatsinspain/

 

Political shock waves after Conservative Party Conference herald further decline of Sterling

Prime Minister Theresa May will resume her foreign outreach this week after stirring global concern that her government’s focus on immigration controls as it leaves the European Union risks alienating international partners as well as curbing access to the single market.

Follow @Brexit for the latest news, and sign up to our Brexit Bulletin for a daily roundup.

The Conservative Party leader will travel to Denmark and the Netherlands on Monday for talks with prime ministers Lars Lokke Rasmussen and Mark Rutte respectively as she tries to build understanding for her position ahead of this month’s EU summit in Brussels, her first as premier. The visits to two traditional allies within Europe follows trips to other EU capitals including Berlin, Paris and Warsaw as the U.K. prepares to trigger Article 50 by the end of March, beginning up to two years of Brexit negotiations.

The prime minister is under pressure from financial markets, business leaders, government colleagues and a cross-party group of lawmakers after she set out her vision of how Britain will exit the 28-nation bloc. May’s pledge to restrict immigration is increasingly seen by investors and fellow EU governments alike as incompatible with continued U.K. access to the single market, posing a risk to the economy.

That realization has sent shock waves through markets and pushed the pound to its biggest weekly loss since the Brexit vote in June. Sterling resumed its decline on Monday, and was down 0.2 percent as of 10:35 a.m. in London.

“The U.K. is really shooting themselves in the foot and it is going to get ugly,” Nouriel Roubini, professor of economics at the New York University Stern School of Business, said at an event in Washington on Sunday. “The risk is not that the U.K. has a recession of two-three quarters; the risk is that the U.K. will stagnate at 1 percent growth for the next five years,” Roubini said. Then, “those that voted for Brexit are much worse off.”

The political shock waves from the signals out of last week’s Conservative Party conference mirrored the market tremors that reverberated around the globe. The Observer newspaper reported that former Labour Party leader Ed Miliband held talks with pro-EU Conservative lawmakers on forming an alliance to demand the government allow a parliamentary vote on the terms of Brexit. Miliband is considering pushing for May to appear before Parliament to explain the body’s role in EU-exit decisions.
Credits: Bloomberg.com

Pro-EU Tory rebels reveal their plan to fight Theresa May’s ‘harsh Brexit’

Pro-EU Tory rebels reveal their plan to fight Theresa May’s ‘harsh Brexit’

A group of Tories have vowed to be the resistance to what it dubbed the “harsh Brexit” now apparently planned by Theresa May.

eu-indie-6The Conservative Group for Europe set out its stall ahead of the Brexit talks, pledging to fight the economic damage it fears from severing links with the Single Market. An 80-strong reception at the Birmingham conference heard an impassioned call to fight back from senior Conservative MP Neil Carmichael.

Mr Carmichael said, “We would be reckless if we did not challenge some of the consequences of a hard, or harsh, Brexit.

Read More at Independent Online

Pound falls as Theresa May indicates Brexit date

Pound falls as Theresa May indicates Brexit date

Sterling has fallen to a three-year low against the euro after Theresa May outlined the timetable for starting Brexit negotiations.

bbc_eu1It also hit its lowest level against the dollar since the beginning of July.

On Sunday, the prime minister said she would trigger Article 50, the clause needed to start the process, by the end of March 2017. That means the UK is likely to leave the EU by mid-2019. In early morning trade, the pound fell by about 1% against the euro to €1.1433 before recovering slightly.

It was also down 1% against the dollar at $1.2854 at one point, its lowest since 6 July, when it hit $1.2797.

 

Government announces end of European Communities Act

Government announces end of European Communities Act

The UK will take back control of its laws and provide the maximum possible certainty for workers and businesses on leaving the EU.

gov-ukSecretary of State for Exiting the European Union David Davis has announced today that the Government plans to repeal the 1972 European Communities Act (ECA). The Act gives direct effect to all EU law and the introduction of a new Bill to repeal it will mean the Act ceases to apply from the day of exit.

At the same time the new Bill will convert existing EU law into domestic law, while allowing Parliament to amend, repeal or improve any law after appropriate scrutiny and debate.

Read More on Gov.uk Website