197 days to go

Tues­day (Septem­ber 11) was the milestone to­wards Brexit day on March 29 next year

Costa Blanca News (North Edition) - - FRONT PAGE - By James Parkes jparkes@cb­news.es

Tues­day marked a milestone (200 days) in the count­down for Brexit Day - March 29, 2019. Bri­tish ex­pats's right re­main un­cer­tain in many is­sues and scare­mon­ger­ing reports are not help­ing.

TUES­DAY marked 200 days to go be­fore Brexit Day - March 29 2019.

To­day, with 197 days left to go, ex­pats are still very un­cer­tain as to what their sta­tus will be as they con­tinue to live in EU coun­tries af­ter that day.

Costa Blanca News is re­ceiv­ing an in­creas­ing num­ber of calls and let­ters ask­ing if such and such a new rule for Brits is Spain is true or not. Scare­mon­ger­ing is in­creas­ing and many have even be­gun to ask where to get a ru­moured new 'res­i­den­cia' or NIE num­ber.

Re­gard­ing all these ru­mours and so-called new in­struc­tion, the only trust­wor­thy re­ply we can pro­vide is the fol­low­ing: Noth­ing will change un­til March 29, 2019.

What­ever new pro­ce­dure or reg­u­la­tion you are told to carry out, bear in mind noth­ing has been signed yet and ne­go­ti­a­tions are still that: just talk for the mo­ment.

Bri­tish and Span­ish au­thor­i­ties are call­ing upon all Bri­tish ex­pats to re­main calm and not call in at po­lice sta­tions or other of­fi­cial of­fices to get any kind of 'new' doc­u­men­ta­tion - as noth­ing of this sort has been men­tioned, let alone passed by the EU, Spain or the UK yet.

Fur­ther­more, af­ter that date, a tran­si­tion pe­riod stretch­ing to De­cem­ber 31, 2020 has been ini­tially agreed for any modifications in sta­tus and re­quired doc­u­men­ta­tion to be grad­u­ally im­ple­mented in that pe­riod.

What has been agreed to so far

Ac­cord­ing to the of­fi­cial UK gov­ern­ment web­site Gov.uk, the UK and EU Com­mis­sion have so far agreed that:

UK na­tion­als and their fam­ily mem­bers cov­ered by the agree­ment will con­tinue to have the same ac­cess as they cur­rently do to health­care, pen­sions and other ben­e­fits.

UK na­tion­als and their fam­ily mem­bers cov­ered by the agree­ment will be able to leave their Mem­ber State of res­i­dence for up to 5 years with­out los­ing their right to re­turn.

EU27 Mem­ber States may re­quire UK na­tion­als and their fam­ily mem­bers cov­ered by the agree­ment to ap­ply for a res­i­dency doc­u­ment or sta­tus con­fer­ring the right of res­i­dence (if so, as ex­plained ear­lier, this will not ap­ply un­til af­ter March 29, 2019).

Ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures for such ap­pli­ca­tions will be trans­par­ent, smooth and stream­lined.

Where an ap­pli­ca­tion is re­quired to ob­tain sta­tus, UK na­tion­als will have un­til at least 6 months af­ter the end of the Im­ple­men­ta­tion Pe­riod to sub­mit their ap­pli­ca­tions.

Res­i­dence doc­u­ments will be is­sued free of charge or for a charge not ex­ceed­ing that im­posed on na­tion­als for the is­su­ing of sim­i­lar doc­u­ments (such as pass­ports).

UK na­tion­als who, be­fore the end of the Im­ple­men­ta­tion Pe­riod, are hold­ers of a valid per­ma­nent res­i­dence doc­u­ment or a valid do­mes­tic im­mi­gra­tion doc­u­ment con­firm­ing a per­ma­nent right to re­side, will be able to ex­change that doc­u­ment for a new res­i­dence doc­u­ment free of charge. They may be re­quired to pro­vide proof of iden­tity and un­dergo crim­i­nal­ity and se­cu­rity checks.

The in­tro­duc­tion of ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures, or changes to ex­ist­ing ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­ce­dures will be de­cided by each Mem­ber State.

Get reg­is­tered

The solid ad­vice that has been given con­stantly from the Em­bassy and the con­sulate in Ali­cante since the ref­er­en­dum is the need to be reg­is­tered with your coun­cil - the mu­nic­i­pal 'padrón' of res­i­dents.

The ap­pli­ca­tion of many of the agree­ments to be reached re­gard­ing Bri­tish cit­i­zens liv­ing in Spain to be signed be­tween the UK and the EU, and the UK and Spain uni­lat­er­ally, will mainly de­pend on whether or not you are an of­fi­cially reg­is­tered res­i­dent be­fore Brexit Day (March 29, 2019).

Costa Blanca News once again joins the Em­bassy and the Span­ish au­thor­i­ties in call­ing upon all Bri­tish res­i­dents who have not yet done so to reg­is­ter with their lo­cal coun­cil as soon as pos­si­ble.

Be­ing on the ' padrón' does not af­fect your rights, ci­ti­zen­ship or taxes. It sim­ply states that you do in fact live in a Span­ish mu­nic­i­pal­ity, en­ti­tles you to the ser­vices it pro­vides and in fu­ture it will put you un­der the um­brella of the With­drawal Agree­ment.

Lo­cal elec­tions

Spain will be hold­ing lo­cal elec­tions in May next year and many Bri­tish res­i­dents won­der if they will be al­lowed to vote.

Re­gard­ing this, the ini­tial an­swer would be no, but that could change.

In May, PP Euro-MP Teresa Be­cer­ill posed the fol­low­ing ques­tions to EU Pres­i­dent Juncker:

"To what ex­tent will the right of Bri­tish cit­i­zens liv­ing in Spain to vote in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions change af­ter Brexit?

"Will there be a tran­si­tional pe­riod be­tween the UK’s EU exit date in March 2019 and the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in Spain in May 2019, with re­gard to the vot­ing rights of Bri­tish cit­i­zens liv­ing in Spain?

He an­swered on be­half of the EU Com­mis­sion as fol­lows on July 26:

"For cit­i­zens of the Euro­pean Union, po­lit­i­cal rights such as the right to vote and to stand as a can­di­date in mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions in the State of res­i­dence are cov­ered by Ar­ti­cle 20 of the Treaty on the Func­tion­ing of the Euro­pean Union.

"From the day the United King­dom with­draws from the Euro­pean Union, those rights will no longer be pro­tected for UK na­tion­als who re­side in a Union Mem­ber State nor for Union cit­i­zens who re­side in the UK (see Ar­ti­cle 122(1)(b) of the draft With­drawal Agree­ment pub­lished on 19 March 2018(1)). This will be the case even in a sce­nario in which the with­drawal agree­ment which will in­clude a tran­si­tional pe­riod would be rat­i­fied.

"This is the case for per­sons who are ben­e­fi­cia­ries of the With­drawal Agree­ment in other re­spects, i.e. for ex­am­ple UK na­tion­als who ex­er­cised their right to re­side in a Union Mem­ber State be­fore the end of the tran­si­tion pe­riod and EU cit­i­zens who did so in the UK, and where UK or EU cit­i­zens take up res­i­dence in a Union Mem­ber State or the UK af­ter the end of the tran­si­tion pe­riod.

"From the day of the UK's with­drawal from the Euro­pean Union, vot­ing rights in lo­cal elec­tions of EU cit­i­zens in the UK, and UK na­tion­als in EU Mem­ber States will con­se­quently be reg­u­lated by na­tional leg­is­la­tion."

From this re­ply we can draw the fol­low­ing con­clu­sion: Bri­tish cit­i­zens will not be able to vote in the elec­tions, un­less the Span­ish gov­ern­ment al­lows it specif­i­cally - as it does in the case of Swiss and Nor­we­gian res­i­dents who have been al­lowed to vote in pre­vi­ous lo­cal elec­tions des- pite not be­ing part of the EU.

To the ex­tent, both Ci­u­dadanos and PP par­ties have ex­pressed their will to ap­prove such leg­is­la­tion.

In March this year, Bri­tish Am­bas­sador to Spain, Si­mon Man­ley stated: “The UK in­tends to of­fer the right to vote to Euro­peans who are in the United King­dom in rec­i­proc­ity, so that Brits in the Euro­pean Union also have that right in lo­cal elec­tions, but an agree­ment has not yet been reached be­cause it de­pends on lo­cal elec­toral reg­u­la­tions.”

In any case this is­sue needs to be re­solved be­fore the start of the tran­si­tion pe­riod, set to be­gin on March 29, 2019 and end on De­cem­ber 31, 2020, for Bri­tish ex­pats to be able to vote in the May 2019 elec­tions.

Costa Liv­ing

As the need for re­li­able in­for­ma­tion on all these as­pects in­creases as the dead­line ap­proaches, Costa Blanca News is proud to an­nounce that the next edi­tion of our pop­u­lar Costa Life - The Es­sen­tial Guide to Liv­ing on the Costas mag­a­zine will fo­cus mainly on these is­sues and how to live legally in Spain.

The mag­a­zine will be in­cluded free in our news­pa­per in late Oc­to­ber once we have com­piled all the nec­es­sary in­for­ma­tion from the Em­bassy, the con­sulate and Span­ish lo­cal and na­tional au­thor­i­ties.

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