Some Brexit Updates from Spain.

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Posted and filed under Brexit and Spain, General Articles of Interest.

Some Brexit Updates from Spain.

Brexit: Spanish driving licence, residency, donations.

I had a meeting today with the notary, Marguerita, in La Zenia, Alicante.

It appears there is uncertainty in Spain concerning Brexit with the Spanish government making contradictory noises on several aspects of the so called “arrangement”. Great Britain has agreed to respect the rights of the almost 100,000 Spanish residents in the UK assuming Spain honours the rights of the expat British community here in Spain. Worth noting is the value of each expat community to the respective adopted country. Spanish residents in the UK tend to be students and transient workers.

These people cook, clean, work in hotels and do activities that British people tend not to want to do. In Spain, the British population is older, 33% is over 65 and worth less to the economy (they have already bought their house and paid the tax on it!) They don’t work as a rule of thumb and add less to the economy than the Spaniards in the UK.

However as part of its post Brexit “plan” the London government said that it will have a two tier system for immigrants there. Not all Spaniards will qualify for health care, education or social welfare. Spain has said that either there is a deal for all their citizens or there is not a deal for the British people here.

What could it mean? Potential college degrees, driving licences (for sure) and pet passports are null and void. Central government in Madrid and specifically Foreign Minister Borrell has said that it wishes to devolve power to the various regions to cover the impending doom. This means Alicante can clearly see the importance of the British community here and therefore can choose to make healthcare and education changes easy on them. Probably.

Once we know, we will be helping our clients and we think they may need a three month visa, then a six month visa, then a year long visa, then five years. As we keep saying we are waiting to see. We’ll make it easy for people once we know the rules and we’ll go to the relative office with our clients who must show up in person in Alicante, once we have word the process can begin.

Trade with Spain and the UK?

If you are a Spanish exporter of tiles, fruit and vegetables or leather goods, there should be new standards in place on October 31st before they can send goods (or services ) back to Britain but…. How can they meet these new standards when we don’t know what they are, or if they will be needed? Despite the hard talk from London, Spain is beginning to think Brexit will never happen.

Borrell too was dragged reluctantly into a conversation with the press this week concerning Gibraltar. This is a land border between a UK territory and Europe and legally must be treated as such. What happens the 30 000 people who cross the border every day on November 1st? We don’t know. Will Spain take this opportunity to claim back this important military location from Britain?

Why does it have to be a border?

Playing chicken with the border- a perfect example. After Brexit, rules will change for meat production. Europe has banned bleached chickens for many years due to obvious health concerns. Even if Britain while a member of the EU, wanted to buy low quality chicken from the USA which did not pass the laws on quality, (why would they?) they could not. Thus, we know that if you eat chicken in Europe today, the standard is the same everywhere.

After Brexit, Boris Johnson has said they will set up trade agreements with American which has lower standards of meat production. This meat will be legal in Gibraltar but illegal in Europe – ie the other side of the Gibraltar border. There is no way to protect Europe from the influx of goods not considered suitable to Europe without a border unless… Britain keeps the same standards as the EU. That means though, there was no ground gained by leaving in the first place.

My head hurts.

We still are encouraging donations of property to family members but time is against us. If you are British and you own a property in Alicante, there will never be a better time to put it into the name of your heirs, ever, as in some cases the tax is as low as zero!!

UK driving licences in Spain.

After October 31 if you are driving in Europe on a British driving licence you will be doing it illegally. Worse still if you do not exchange you driving licence before October 31st you will likely be forced to do a new test, having taken lessons with a recognised and approved Spanish driving school. If you have a British licence even if you like many Spaniards believe Brexit is never going to happen, get your licence exchanged ASAP.

Spanish Residency

The recent British government backed campaign to encourage British people to make sure they are legal, has seen the numbers of British people living in Spain officially rise to 365,000 euro. We estimate there are  a further 150,000 people who come and go and are not registered here, mostly in the Valencia region. People can register at the policia local station or certain immigration offices. We can help, naturally.
There is, in the event of a deal being reached between the EU and Britain a transition time agreement in place. Britain will still be part of the EU until the end of 2020 at least with Brussels offering to extend the date to 2022, giving us all enough time to ensure all our British friends, relatives and clients are safely protected here. This is dependent on a deal being reached something that is becoming less likely by the day.

What happens with a no deal crash out? Nobody knows. Remember Theresa May said for one year, “no deal is better than a bad deal”- It appears to be very untrue. Britain needs a deal or else barriers to trade, the free movement of money and people go up overnight. We are expecting to be busy here in Spanish Solutions while we try to figure out our British clients immigration status in spain. What if 500,000 British people apply for residency in the first few months? They may have to. Pedro Sanchez (PSOE, Socialist party) has hired 1,000 new public servants to concentrate on this exact problem but with Spain facing a fourth general election in four years, they have problems of their own!
Brexit, we wait an see!

Ian Comaskey

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