Brit expat rights in Spain now dependent on reciprocity for Spanish expats in UK

Published:  24 Sep at 6 PM
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The news that their rights in Spain will now be linked to the UK’s granting of the same rights to Spanish expats is yet another shock to Spain’s huge UK expat community.

In spite of the Spanish government’s recent easing of British expats’ fears over their post-Brexit statuses, Britons are now hearing their rights will be dependent on the UK’s granting of exactly the same rights to Spanish expats. Spain is home to around 366,000 British citizens, all of whom are officially residents in EU law, with the Madrid government’s statement a terrifying blow to all those who’d believed they were safe from losing everything as a result of Brexit.

The British government’s offer to Spanish expats living and working in the UK is part of a general scheme aimed at all EU citizens resident in Britain. It originally included two status categories, pre-settled and settled, although it’s now believed the pre-settled status has been dropped. The scheme was brought in last April, with 66 per cent of Spanish applicants being granted settled status, a number which has, it seems, now dropped to 57 per cent with no explanation given.

Recently, a Spanish Royal Decree was issued, containing details covering the possibility of a hard Brexit and including many rights in use in daily life. These rights, it now seems, can be removed should the government decide Spanish expats in the UK are being shortchanged. According to the Spanish EU minister, reciprocity cannot involve half measures as it’s either in place or it isn’t. At the present moment, Spain requires an offer of full reciprocity from the UK government within the next two months, with British diplomatic sources saying the UK’s offer will include ‘similar rights as exact matches are impossible’.

Should full rights not be given to Spaniards in the UK, rights for Brits in Spain will be removed. A major cause for British expat concern may be the fact that the UK’s scheme doesn’t guarantee permanent residency, with only 81 per cent of applicants out of the 86,400 Spanish expats resident in the UK being granted residency. At the present time, no comments on the new Spanish position have been issued by the British government, leaving Britons in Spain believing their plight is being ignored yet again. Basically, the new announcement states that, should full rights not be given to Spaniards in the UK, all rights for Brits in Spain will be removed.
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