Spaniards join UK expats in concern over Brexit

Published:  31 Oct at 6 PM
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As controversy over the prospect of a no-deal Brexit soars, Spanish businesses join with British expats in concern about its effects.

Fears are mounting in the British expat community, the Spanish expat community in the UK and the Spanish business community about the likelihood of Britain crashing out of the European Union without a deal. Spain hosts around 19 million British tourists every year, and bilateral trade is also a major earner for Spanish businesses. Add to these factors the spends of a quarter of a million UK expats living in the country, and the EU/UK divorce may well be as deadly for the Spanish economy as it will be for the UK.

A favourite tourism and retirement hub in the front line as regards Brexit is the Costa del Sol, with 26 per cent of its annual visitors arriving from the UK and providing a lifeline for local businesses. It’s also a favourite with British retirees, who’re crucial for the continued success of businesses across the region. In addition to trade and tourism, mounting concern also takes in the possibility, however remote, that UK-based aviation could be blocked from entering EU airspace, at least for as long as it takes to negotiate yet another agreement. Hoteliers catering for business travellers as well as tourists will be hard hit should the threat become a reality.

According to Patricia Cirez, head of the Brussels-based Spanish Confederation of Employers’ Organisations, a no-deal divorce would have a massive effect on the Spanish economy, in addition to changing the daily lives of Spain’s business community beyond recognition. Cirez still believes there will be a last-minute breakthrough in the stalled negotiations, as all those involved are fully aware the consequences of a no-deal exit are totally unacceptable.

Amongst expat residents determined to prevent the ‘advisory’ referendum’s result from crushing their dreams, concerns are still focused on two issues – pensions and healthcare, with rage growing over the lack of concrete information emanating from the UK government. Residency and the right to drive are also concerns, and the 130,000 Spanish citizens living and working in the UK are now worried about their rights to free movement. Their own government isn’t mentioning this, causing concern amongst those in the business community who need to travel to the EU on a regular basis.
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