197 days to go
Tuesday (September 11) was the milestone towards Brexit day on March 29 next year
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.
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.
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.
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.