By Anne Hernández
I AM beginning to wonder if the world has gone totally bonkers! What with Brexit, COVID, Boris Johnson’s bumblings and now the knife-edge Trump v Biden race to the White House. Nothing seems ‘normal’ anymore and the year 2020 will surely go down in history as one of the worst on record.
Brexit is the one thing that will most affect us as British passport holders here in Spain – although newly issued ones have reverted back to their dark blue colour – and while I have never been a political animal, I have become so since the threat of the referendum loomed in 2015 leading to subsequent vote for the UK to be taken out of the EU.
It has been an interesting, albeit sharp, learning curve and I have made some wonderful new friends and important contacts along the way.
My association, Brexpats in Spain, that I set-up in 2016 just after the referendum, now has nearly 20,000 members. Fed up with all the misinformation throughout the run-up to the referendum I decided we needed a source of factual information although we have often been accused of ‘scaremongering’ which has now proven to be ‘truthmongering’.
Some Brits here though still prefer to be ostriches and will do nothing until the very last minute and I fear they are in for a rude awakening!
We ceased to be citizens of the EU on January 31 and were given a grace period (transition) to allow us to get everything done in anticipation of January 1, 2021, when we officially become third country nationals.
Spain opted for the declaratory scheme so, as beneficiaries of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) article 18.4, those of us who live here must have a residency, Spanish driving licence, private or state medical care and be on the Padron at our local town halls.
The WA ensured that we will have continued access to employment, healthcare, education, benefits and other services. The UK government will continue to pay our pensions, child benefit, and disability benefits as long as we are eligible UK nationals in the EU.
Brexit will not change the existing EU double taxation arrangements that apply to EU countries and ensure that everyone living in a country that has a treaty with the UK will not pay tax in two countries on the same income.
For British travellers from the UK to the EU however, there will be stricter border controls and passports must have a validity of six months minimum. In addition, visas will be needed for work or study in the EU.
Driving in the EU will need an IDP and green card plus GB stickers if driving a UK registered vehicle, the UK pet passport scheme will stop and paying with UK bank cards while in the EU may become more expensive.
The Schengen ruling for non-residents being allowed in the Schengen area for only 90 days in any 180 days is causing concern for many, referred to as Swallows (or snowbirds), who holiday here in their second homes for perhaps four or five months each year. That will probably not be possible after January and their EHIC medical care will not be valid either so private health care will be necessary.
Talk of a no deal will not affect our rights as citizens as it refers to trade deals, but it will make it difficult for the UK to compete in terms of world business because the EU has deals in place with 70 countries worldwide.
Despite Boris Johnson’s so called ‘oven-ready deal’, the EU/UK negotiations have been strained over the last few months, however over the last fortnight progress has been made on a deal to avoid a Hard Brexit.
While the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier told the media yesterday that there were still some key stumbling blocks ahead, the EU is persevering to sign an agreement. Us expats must pray our own dear bumbling leader is of the same ilk.
Either way, one of my reliable contacts in Brussels has told me that the EU/UK teams are next week signing a deal. So, if true, either Boris has buckled to the EU’s conditions or vice-versa. I rather suspect the former!
To read more of our ‘truthmongering’ go to any of our six Brexpats in Spain Facebook groups, twitter or website.