Spain/UK agreement to give UK and EU expats voting rights

Published:  18 Dec at 6 PM
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After Spain’s foreign minister Josep Borrell had stated British expats losing their local voting rights was ’collateral damage’, the two countries agreed to plans for a bilateral treaty upholding the right to vote for both groups.

As it stands at present, the 115,000 Spanish expats living in the UK and their 280,000 British counterparts living in Spain will lose their local election voting rights the minute Brexit is brought in on March 29 next year. The British expat community in Spain with cease to be EU citizens, thus losing their rights to vote in their adopted country. Before the treaty can become law, it must be first signed and then ratified by both the British and Spanish parliaments.

According to diplomatic sources, it’s almost certain the treaty will not happen in time to cover Spain’s May 26 2019 elections, with the Spanish premier now floating a plan to authorise the agreement provisionally as soon as the required signatures are received. Spain has been the favoured destination for British expatriates for decades, and the official number of 280,000 is probably way under the actual total of around 750,000 or even a million.

The proposed reciprocal rights agreement mirrors similar agreements held by Spain with Iceland, Norway and several Latin American states, with expat citizens not only allowed to vote but also able to stand for election to local offices. One reason for this caveat is that some 37 British expats have already been elected to serve as councillors in various Spanish municipalities. Borell also announced Spain would continue working with British Embassy officials to ensure all Brit expats who wish to register would be able to do so before March 29.
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