THE British Ambassador in Madrid has insisted that negotiations ‘continue to progress well’ on a driving licence agreement with Spain although there was little more he could reveal about the matter.
Hugh Elliott recognised the frustrations of those who have been left in limbo after Spain refused to extend an interim measure allowing Brits to swap their driving licences he remained optimistic that ‘we are nearly there’ in striking a deal.
“Whilst there’s nothing specific to share with you, no news isn’t bad news and what I said last week still stands. Getting you back on the road is our top priority in the Embassy and we are working on it every day,” he said in a post on the Brits in Spain Facebook page run by the Embassy.
“There will be a further, more substantive update next week,” he promised, suggesting that a deal could be announced within days.
“I understand your frustration that this process is taking so long and the very practical impact this has had on many people’s everyday lives. And I know that you would like an exact date when this will be concluded, but we can’t make any guarantees. As soon as we have a clearer picture we will let you know, but I am confident in saying we are nearly there.
Many Brits have been left unable to drive legally in Spain since May 1 when the deadline to exchange driving licences following the pre-Brexit process expired after Spain refused to extend the grace period.
The rules state that foreign residents in Spain must swap their licences after six months of living here in order to legally drive and while this was simple before Brexit, Spain and the UK have yet to sign a bilateral agreement on the matter leaving Brits with no choice but to take the Spanish driving test.
The Olive Press has covered the plight of those left stranded without the use of the car and has launched a campaign calling for a swift resolution to the problem.
Elliott sent a message to those affected and said there was help at hand for those left feeling isolated because of the situation.
“I have heard from many of you directly and recognise that it can be especially difficult if you are living out in the campo or in an isolated spot, taxis may not be an option and you may be exhausting the goodwill of your neighbours.”
He urged those affected to ask for help either from local authorities, local community groups and charities operating in expat areas or in the worst cases, the consulate itself.
“Do reach out to your local ayuntamiento if you need assistance and, in some places, charities and community groups can help with transport. And, as ever, if you are in a particularly vulnerable situation, or someone you know is, please get in touch with your nearest consulate to see if they can offer any additional advice.”
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