Spanish foreign Minister assures 'Brits' lives in Spain will not be disrupted after Brexit!
SPAIN'S foreign affairs minister Alfonso Dastis was interviewed on the BBC's Andrew Marr show this Sunday, and he confirmed that he wants to make sure British expats in Spain did not have any problems after the UK leaving the EU.
UK citizens living in EU countries such as Spain, are worried about what will happen to them in the event Britain crashes out of the Union without a deal.
"I do hope that there will be a good deal between the UK and the EU," said Spain's foreign minister to Andrew Marr.
"If there is no deal, we will make sure that the everyday lives of ordinary British people who are living in Spain are not disrupted.
"As you know, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one in terms of economic relations and also social exchanges. More than 17 million Brits come to Spain every year, and many of them live here, or retire here, and we want to keep it that way as much as possible."
Brits who want to work in Spain are worried about being at the back of the queue for jobs which employers want to keep for EU citizens, and about problems getting a work permit.
Those receiving a UK State pension are worried that Britain will stop contributing towards their healthcare – at the moment, the British government pays €4,300 a head to Spain, which does not cover costs for those with serious or ongoing medical problems.
Whether Spain would continue to pay the difference if Britain is no longer part of the EU is a concern, although Dastis' words suggest there will be no change.
But Spain is unlikely to be able to afford to replace the €4,300 per pensioner if Britain stop paying.
Whether retired or of working age, Britons in Spain are worried about new rules about having to queue up for residence permits every few years, and the risk of being turned down if their income falls below a certain level.
This means Dastis' comments are music to many expats' ears, since he suggests work permits, residence restrictions and, to a certain extent, healthcare, are not going to be changed.
Many fear a backlash from EU nations if the UK does not give full rights to Europeans living in the UK, but leaders of the EU 27 do not appear to be thinking in those terms.
Their common number one priority – along with the UK settling its pre-existing financial commitments, and a solution being found to the Republic of Ireland-Northern Ireland border – is the rights of citizens caught in the Brexit crossfire, meaning Brits living and either working, studying or living off their UK pension in Europe already have 27 countries on their side, no matter what happens in the outgoing 28th nation.
More Brits live in Spain than any other EU country, and the official figures say they number is 308,805 – although the actual total could be much higher as many may not have signed on the padrón, or council census, and others who have second/holiday homes spend just short of six months in the country, meaning they are not classed as 'residents'.
Of these, only a third are pensioners – 101,045, - according to the UK's Office for National Statistics.