THE clearest assurance yet that healthcare –of major concern to tens of thousands of British expats following Brexit – is “more or less settled.”
And the same goes for pensions and residence rights, according to British Ambassador Simon Manley when he updated a packed university gathering in Elche, on the Costa Blanca.
“Healthcare, in particular, is not a controversial subject within the general negotiations as both sides want an agreement,” he stressed.
The meeting hosted by Brexpats in Spain and moderated by their regional representative Richard Hill, was attended by more than 100 visitors at the Miguel Hernandez University.
It was addressed by the Ambassador and the British Consul in Alicante Sarah-Jane Morris as well as legal representatives from Pellicer and Heredia, regional Spanish politicians and law professors from the university.
What came through was the 100 per cent support from the Spanish authorities and their people – there were a number of Spanish at the meeting – that an agreement can be made for UK citizens living in Spain.
“The Spanish politicians at all levels of government are very keen that there is no disruption to any Briton’s day-to-day life here,” the ambassador stressed.
He opened by thanking all the individuals and organisations that had contributed information, ideas and suggestions in recent months, with him and the Consul attending more than 70 such events and meetings.
“They have enriched our understanding of the individual circumstances of the people living in Spain and everything has been fed back to London”, the ambassador added.
“Spanish politicians at all levels of government are very keen that there is no disruption to any Briton’s day-to-day life here.”
Questions from the floor covered several issues but no concrete answers could be given from any source.
The Ambassador expressed disappointment that agreements hadn’t yet been reached on future voting rights at local elections and recognition of professional qualifications, explaining that the UK wanted to guarantee such rights for EU citizens in the UK, but as yet it was something the EU weren’t prepared to reciprocate on.
Concerning the status of UK nationals in Spain after Brexit,and Consul Sarah-Jane Morris stressed that the advice has been the same for a long time.
“Everyone living here now should make themselves as legal as it is possible to be under the existing rules such as registering on the padrón, obtaining residencia, paying taxes, Spanish driving licences etc.
“After the UK leaves the EU, those trying to remain in Spain under the radar may begin to run into difficulties and I fear the Consular services will be inundated with people at that point.”
RTN spoke with visitor John Parkinson from San Miguel after the meeting who said: “I didn’t really learn anything new from today, but what did surprise me was the UK’s negotiating position at the talks which was more positive than is being portrayed on the news. I feel more assured that the British government are looking after us more than I thought”