LET’S FACE it: not very many expatriates actually watch Spanish television.
If they did, they might have seen the town of San Fulgencio being talked about on Wednesday’s news to highlight the possible effects that the official launch of Brexit might have on the UK resident population in Spain. Let’s also face the fact that it’s not really San Fulgencio that was important to the news team, but actually the urbanization of La Marina, where the majority of the expats own homes.
The overall tone of the news piece was that British “Spanish” are very concerned about their future health care if they continue living in Spain. According to INE data as of 1 January 2016, in Spain there are a little more than a quarter of a million Britons, most of them on the Mediterranean coast or on the islands, and Alicante is the area with the largest number, with a total of 72,935, many of them with housing in urbanisations of Orihuela, Torrevieja, Rojales, San Fulgencio, Benidorm, Calpe or Jávea. Alicante is followed by Málaga, with 50,530 Britons, and the Balearic Islands (16,126), Santa Cruz de Tenerife (15,060), Almería (14,344) and Murcia (13,696) are the most distant.
Since the UK voted to leave the EU, Brexit has been a huge topic of rumour and conjecture and bar talk. The fact remains, that the UK have not entered into negotiations with any EU member states about the exit plan. Thus anything has been mentioned by so-called experts, lawyers, gestors, news columnists, etc, is nothing more than an opinion, an opportunity for them to make money or market their services, or pure conjecture.
TVE noted that Brexit has caused concern among the 254,000 British residents living in Spain and went to the Alicante town of San Fulgencio to speak to local politicians, bar owners, relators and the public, as this small town hosts the largest British colony in Spain.
Apparently the panic has led some to sell their homes in Spain, while the vast majority currently have their doubts about what happens if primarily the public health service would change in Spain.
They did ask the question about the British continuing to work here? Will they be caught in legal limbo? Will they have to get a private health insurance? However, San Fulgencio with it’s British population being 90% retired, was not really the place to ask about employment. Madrid would have been a better place to ask that question.
In a statement from the UK government, they say: “The rights and status of EU nationals in the UK and UK nationals in the EU is unchanged as we approach our exit. We want to seek the earliest agreement to protect the status of EU nationals who are already living in the UK, and the status of UK nationals already living in other member states, following our exit. The Prime Minister has made clear that we stand ready to reach a deal on this right now. It remains an important priority for the UK and many other Member States to provide certainty to these groups as soon as possible.”