THE British embassy in Spain has released another update on ongoing negotiations between the UK and Spanish authorities on driving licences, but once again failed to offer a timeframe for a solution to the problem.
Post-Brexit changes to international agreements have left many UK licence holders resident in Spain unable to drive since May 1, with those affected growing increasingly desperate due to their inability to shop, get to hospital appointments or see relatives.
In its latest message, posted on Friday, the embassy explained that the issue is still “a top priority for the UK” and that progress on “outstanding points” has been made.
Once again, the embassy made clear that it could not go into detail on the sticking points “as that could risk derailing the negotiations”.
Many of the UK licence holders affected – who are not just British but also include Spanish and Irish nationals – have been speculating that the hold-up is due to ongoing negotiations over post-Brexit arrangements for Gibraltar, the British Overseas Territory whose sovereignty has long been contested by Spain.
The text from the embassy also set out what would happen once an agreement is reached. This includes a six-month period for people to exchange their licence for a Spanish one (without the need for a test), and the ability once more to drive using their valid UK licence.
The embassy recommends getting an appointment to do this swap as soon as possible once an agreement is reached to avoid delays and backlogs.
The Facebook post from the embassy had more than 700 comments by Sunday, with many victims of the situation once again expressing their exasperation with their inability to legally drive on Spanish roads.
“Why can’t they allow us to drive in the meantime legally?” wrote Nichola Fair. “Surely that would at least help us whilst we wait…? It’s not humane to leave us in this situation.”
“This update is just the same waffle!” wrote a user named Isra. “Nothing new to say, just the same sentences all the time in different order.”
The statement from the embassy also said that “we do read all your messages”, and made clear that the diplomatic mission “is in touch with many of the groups representing UK nationals”.
It also stated that “we are meeting one of the groups specifically lobbying on this issue to discuss their, and your, concerns”.
This was likely in reference to a planned meeting on October 18 at the embassy with representatives from the Facebook group “Invasion of the British embassy in Madrid”.
While this group had originally planned to organise a protest at the embassy, as well as at Spanish Traffic Department offices around the country, these demonstrations have been put on hold by group organiser Pascal Siegmund until he has met with embassy representatives.
According to a post from Siegmund on October 4, he and three other members of the group will be meeting at the embassy this Tuesday.
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