SPAIN and the UK have revealed plans to push through a bilateral treaty that will uphold local voting rights for their British and Spanish expats.
Currently, the 280,000 Brits officially living in Spain and the 115,000 Spaniards residing in the UK will lose their right to vote in municipal elections when Britain leaves the EU on March 29, 2019.
Regardless of whether UK Prime Minister Theresa May gets her Brexit deal through parliament, British people living in Spain will no longer be EU citizens, meaning they cannot vote in elections.
Once the new treaty is signed, just like any international treaty, it will have to be ratified by Spain and the UK’s parliaments.
This, diplomatic sources said, would probably not happen in time for the May 26 elections next year.
Therefore the Spanish Foreign Ministry is floating the idea of making the agreement come into force provisionally as soon as it is signed.
Spain has more British expats than any other EU country with 280,000 officially registered, although the actual number could be closer to 750,000 or even 1 million.
The reciprocal rights agreement that Madrid and London are working on is similar to what Spain already has with a dozen countries including Norway, Iceland and several Latin American nations.
Citizens will not only be able to vote in local polls, but also be elected to office.
This caveat is designed to protect British nationals who are working as elected councilors in several Spanish municipalities.
According to data compiled by the center-right party Ciudadanos, there are currently 37 British councilors in Spain.
The majority are in Valencia and Andalucia, with 19 and eight respectively.
The two regions are also home to most Brits with Valencia housing 31.4% if British expats in Spain and Andalucia 31%.
The new agreement comes after Spain’s foreign minister Josep Borrell said Brits losing their voting rights was ‘collateral damage’ from Brexit.
Borrell added last Thursday that Spain would be working closely with the UK Embassy tp encourage Brits to register as soon as possible.
He also revealed that the Foreign Ministry is planning to reinforce its presence in the UK by opening a new consulate in Manchester.