BRITS could be back on the road by the end of July, according to the latest update from British Ambassador Hugh Elliott who insists a deal with Spain on driving licence recognition is ‘very close to being finalised’.
“I still cannot give you a precise date I’m afraid,” he said in his latest post on the embassy’s Brits in Spain Facebook page, speaking directly to the thousands of people left unable to drive since May 1 when Spain refused to extend a deadline pending a post-Brexit bilateral agreement.
The two nations have been locked in negotiations over a deal to recognise British driving licences and allow a straightforward swap to Spanish ones, a legal requirement for all foreigners resident in Spain after a period of six months.
“The good news is that the UK and Spain are now in agreement on the core issues that have been problematic and we’re now very close to finalising the actual text of the agreement,” said Elliott who has been ambassador in Madrid since the summer of 2019.
But he explained that there are various legal hoops to jump through before the deal can come into force, including the need for formal approval from the Spanish Council of Minsters.
“You’ll understand that this is an international treaty so there are certain procedures that are just unavoidable,” he said.
Although unable to give an exact timeline, or back firm promises, he explained: “Our best estimate is that we are looking at a date of having you back on the road around the end of July.”
He recognised the hardships suffered by those who can no longer drive legally, especially during a heatwave when the heat makes it less viable option to walk anywhere.
“Although this is only weeks away I know it will feel like a very long time to many of you,” he said. “I know that some of you are experiencing real difficulties as a result of your inability to drive.”
He repeated the plea for those who needed help to access local support options or ‘if you find yourself truly vulnerable or know someone who is’ to contact their local consulate.
The Olive Press has won wide support for its campaign to raise the issue of the driving licence debacle and those affected by it.
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