SPAIN has paved the way for British expats to get residency in the event of a hard Brexit, with a royal decree.
The plan could see some 400,000 Brits get new permits if the UK leaves the EU without a deal.
However the Royal Decree is conditional on Theresa May’s government giving the same rights to Spaniards living and working in Britain.
Spain’s Foreign Minister Josep Borrell said: “Although it is unilateral measure passed by Spain, we expect that it will be met with reciprocity by the British government.”
Under the plan, expats will have guaranteed healthcare provision until at least 2020 and continued access to unemployment benefits and pensions.
A Spanish foreign ministry official told the FT Spain’s position on healthcare in the face of a no-deal Brexit was one of ‘maximum generosity’
Madrid hopes the move will reassure Brits on the costas, including many pensioners who rely on local doctors and hospitals for their care.
Expats who do not receive a permit before the withdrawal date will be able to keep legal residence until their situation is settled.
El Pais reports Brits without residency will have until the end of 2020 to apply for non-EU citizen status, which is expected to be ‘almost automatic’ for those already registered.