LONDON | SUNDAY 22ND OCTOBER 2017 Britons living in Spain will not have their lives “disrupted” after Brexit – even if there is no deal between the UK and the EU, the Spanish Foreign Minister has said.
Speaking on the BBC’s “The Andrew Marr Show” yesterday morning, Alfonso Dastis sought to reassure more than 300,000 expatriate Britons living in Spain.
“I hope that there will be a deal,” the minister said. “But if there is no deal we will make sure that the lives of ordinary people who are in Spain, the British people, are not disrupted”.
“As you know, the relationship between the UK and Spain is a very close one in terms of economic relations and also social exchanges”, said Mr Dastis, Spain’s Minister for Foreign Affairs.
“Over 17 million Brits come to Spain every year and many of them live here or retire here permanently, and we want to keep it that way as much as possible”.
Despite Prime Minister Theresa May’s calls for “urgency” from the EU side in finding a solution, the UK have so far failed to secure an agreement about how the rights of resident expatriates will be protected after Brexit.
According to the UK’s Office for National Statistics, Spain is host to the largest number of British citizens permanently resident in the EU (308,805), and just over one third (101,045) have attained state retirement age.
The EU have repeatedly insisted that citizen’s rights should be one of the first subjects being negotiated in the first round of Brexit talks – a negotiating strategy agreed to by the UK at the first meeting in June earlier this year.
Brexit: Spanish Government minister seeks to offer assurances to expats
Other issues including agreeing on the exit settlement, the rights of EU nationals living or working in the UK, and a solution for the Irish border problem, still remain unresolved, with EU leaders remaining uncertain about the UK’s goals. “We are waiting for a clear British position”, said Didier Reynders, Belgium’s foreign minister.
The role of the European Court of Justice in guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals in the UK has been a bone of contention. The EU argues this must continue, but Britsh Government ministers insist the EU court will no longer have jurisdiction in the UK post-Brexit.
Before last week’s Brussels summit, Mrs May said the two sides were “in touching distance” of finding an agreement.
Later today she is expected to tell MPs she will “put people first” in the “complicated and deeply technical” ongoing European negotiations, when she addresses the British Parliament.
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