APPROXIMATELY 100 people filled the Avanto Restaurant in La Cala de Mijas yesterday (Thursday) to attend a Brexpats in Spain meeting.
Guest speakers were Juan Carlos Maldonado, Mayor of Mijas, His Excellency Simon Manley, British Ambassador to Spain and Charmaine Arbouine British Consul for Andalucia.
Guests and the audience were welcomed by Anne Hernández, President of Brexpats who explained that hers was a voluntary group with no political affiliation that was committed, now that Brexit was a reality, to ensuring that British citizens in Spain and their Spanish counterparts in the UK were treated fairly.
The mayor confirmed his council’s continued support for British expatriates in the area and that he and colleagues were not only committed to helping visitors and those living in the municipality but wanted to ensure that they were treated fairly and with respect.
The Ambassador spoke briefly about the fact that there appeared to have been a significant breakthrough in negotiations between the UK and the negotiators for the EU and the fact that many of the stumbling blocks had been resolved.
He was pleased that those British passport holders living in Spain at the time of Brexit (and the subsequent transition period which will run from March 2019 to the end of 2020) would generally continue to enjoy the rights that they have now (subject to the 27 states accepting the proposed deal).
When questioned however, he did accept that the government was disappointed that there was no agreement yet on movement in pursuit of work for expatriates who wanted to leave Spain and work in another member State.
He made it clear however that this had not been dropped by the British negotiation team and would be on the agenda alongside some of the more controversial areas such as the Irish border and Gibraltar.
Overall, he believed that meetings such as this which had been ongoing since the Brexit vote had helped him considerably in his personal role of feeding information back to the Foreign Office and he believed that the FCO understood the fears and expectations of expatriates in Spain more clearly than those expressed from other countries.
The majority of the audience attending this meeting (as for other meetings in the past) were generally nearing or past pension age but whether this could be considered as a lack interest from younger residents or simply reflected that many would be working.
From Mijas, the Ambassador was due to travel to Manilva for a similar meeting and then on to Cadiz Province for a further meeting which is not connected with Brexit.