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Euro citizens brexit_concerns


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Report by EuroCitizens on the concerns of UK citizens in Spain.

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Euro citizens brexit_concerns

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  2. 2. 1 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 EuroCitizens is an association formed by a group of UK citizens living, working and studying in Spain. We are greatly concerned about our future here and that of Spanish citizens living in the United Kingdom. With the vote in favour of Brexit, we have become bargaining chips and now face years of uncertainty and the loss of our existing rights as European citizens. Our aim is to defend the European citizenship rights of UK nationals in Spain and Spaniards in Britain, specifically the freedom to live, work and study throughout the EU. We are determined to keep a more open and tolerant Europe. We are coordinating our activities with other similar citizen groups around Europe: “"Españoles en el Reino Unido", “European Movement UK" and “Movimiento Europeo España”, as well as various groups of British residents in Spain. Our first public event, held on Tuesday 29 November, 2016 in Madrid, was an informative session about the position of UK and Spanish citizens affected by Brexit and was attended by nearly 100 people. Sarah-Jane Morris, the British Consul in Madrid talked about the potential impact of Brexit on British nationals. William Chislett, journalist and researcher with the Real Instituto Elcano, spoke about the petition for dual nationality that he started with Giles Tremlett of The Guardian. We are now preparing a public event to be held on March 8, in the European Parliament offices in Madrid, with British and Spanish speakers, with the purpose of increasing visibility on the implications of Brexit for Spaniards and UK nationals, before the Government’s announced triggering of Article 50 at the end of March 2017. The event will focus on the implications of Brexit for the freedom of movement and the rights to live, work and study in Europe”. Speakers at the event include Ignacio Sánchez Amor, Vocal de la Comisión del Brexit del Congreso de los Diputados (the Spanish Parliament) Robert Robinson, Vicedecano de Relaciones Internacionales de la Universidad de Pontificia Comillas and Ralph Smith, International Counsel of the legal firm Goméz-Acebo & Pombo Abogados. You can find out more about EuroCitizens and contact us: e-mail: Facebook Twitter: @EuroCitizens99
  3. 3. 2 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Blog: Brexit and the UK community in Spain Introduction …………………………………… 3 The Human Cost ……………………………… 4 Right of abode ………………………………….. 5 Right to work and do business in Spain……. 7 Healthcare ………………………………………. 9 Pensions ………………………………………. 10 Right to Study …………………………………. 11 British Education in Spain ………………. 12 Political Rights ………………………………. 15 Returning to the UK …………………………. 16
  4. 4. 3 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Introduction Since the accession of Spain to the European Union in 1986, with the exception of some voting rights, UK citizens in Spain have enjoyed exactly the same rights and obligations as their Spanish neighbours. Our right to live, work, do business, study, marry and have children here has never been questioned. Some of us are even councillors in our local communities. All of this is about to change drastically with the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union. The changes in the situation of UK citizens in Spain will be brought about mainly by: - European law or its derogation with regard to UK citizens in Europe as a result of Brexit - Agreement or otherwise between the UK and the European Union on the terms of British disengagement - Any bilateral agreements between the UK and individual EU countries post- Brexit - External factors such as exchange rate movements reflecting political and economic developments - Unilateral action by the British government (e.g. policy on pension payments to pensioners who remain in the EU). The principal issue for all UK citizens is the continued right of abode in their EU country of adoption (the right to remain as it has been christened elsewhere), as it is for all EU citizens who have made their home in the UK. In most cases, our residence predates the appearance of Article 50 in the Treaty of Lisbon. The rights we currently enjoy and which helped persuade us to move away from our home countries did not have an expiry date stamped on them. We urgently need reassurances about this most basic of rights. Having said that, the right to abode in Spain is meaningless without all the other accompanying rights that make our continued presence in Spain feasible, whether this is the right to work, study, do business or continue to draw the pensions towards which we have contributed throughout our working lives. The Prime Minister has said that “no deal for Britain is better than a bad deal for Britain”. No government would deliberately inflict pain and suffering on its own citizens but it could easily do so unwittingly if it is not made aware of the likely consequences of an uncontrolled Brexit on the UK expat community resident in the European Union. This document attempts to reflect what the likely consequences of “no deal” would be for the British community in Spain, unless the UK government acts unilaterally or in concert with others to mitigate these effects before the break becomes permanent.
  5. 5. 4 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017
  6. 6. 5 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 The human cost Issues: - Forced repatriation - Break-up of families - Break-up of communities Affects: - All UK residents in Spain Concerns at the personal level: A falling pound, any freezing of UK pensions, the loss of rights to reside, work or run a business in Spain are all factors that could potentially force large numbers of expats to relocate back to the UK, decimating the communities they leave behind and forcing them to start afresh in the "old" country where many will feel strangers after a long absence because many of their old friends will have died or moved away and the landscape of the cities and towns they grew up in will have changed. Organic communities of UK expatriates, Spaniards and other nationals, have grown up all over Spain with their many charitable associations, amateur dramatic societies, choirs, sports clubs and other interest groups. If these communities become eroded by the enforced return to the UK of many of their members, the trauma of disruption would hit not only those who have to leave against their will but also those who stay behind. The uncertainties of the situation are already causing great concern across the whole expat community in Spain, especially as no one can be certain about what the outcome will be for them personally. Enforced return to the UK will be even worse for the victims of the Spanish property slump with many holding negative equity mortgages on houses and flats that are now difficult or impossible to sell. Even those lucky enough to sell, will never be able to be able to acquire a property in the UK anything like the one they sold before moving to Spain, given that property prices in both countries have moved sharply in opposite directions. In some cases, some forced returnees will have to leave behind their Spanish-born children and in some cases grandchildren. A large-scale exodus will also impact on the many plumbers, electricians, gardeners, butchers, bakers and web-page makers who mainly serve the British expat community. Many will also be forced to pack their bags and return to the UK following in the footsteps of their departing customers.
  7. 7. 6 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017
  8. 8. 7 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Right of Abode in Spain Issue: - The right to remain in Spain after Brexit and freedom of movement within the EU Affects: - All UK nationals in Spain Concerns at the personal level: At present, the entire population of UK residents in Spain is entitled to live here as EU citizens under EU law (Directive 2004/38) and they presently constitute a homogeneous whole. However, that homogeneity will disappear once Brexit kicks in unless the current status quo is maintained. Then, UK expats would subdivide into one of the following groups: - Those who had lived here already prior to Spanish accession to the EU and had already acquired residential rights. This right was evidenced by a “Residencia” ID card which was suppressed as unnecessary once all UK citizens had the right to live in Spain under EU law; - Those who had lived here already prior to Spanish accession to the EU but had not formalised their right to reside here; - Those who arrived post-accession with the right to abode guaranteed under EU law; This latter group can be further subdivided into three categories: • Those who registered as EU residents and have renewed their registration after five years; • Those who have registered as EU residents but who will not have lived here for the full five years when Brexit becomes effective; • Those who have lived here without registering as EU residents. At the moment, there is no clarity as to whether all residents will be treated in the same way or, if differentiation between the categories is applied, what conditions might be applied for continued residence in Spain to the members of each category.
  9. 9. 8 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Many long-term residents may be able to rely on Council Directive 2003/109 post Brexit, which would allow them to apply for a right of “long-term residence” as non- EU nationals. However, unlike the right of permanent residence granted to EU citizens, which is automatic after living legally and continuously in a EU country for five years, there are conditions attached to this application. In addition to proving five years’ residence, they must be able to prove that they have “stable and regular economic resources” to support themselves and their families without recourse to social assistance and health insurance in respect of all risks normally covered for nationals of the EU country where they reside. Moreover, there may be integration requirements attached e.g. language and other requirements. Finally, the rights attached to this right of residence are far more limited than those acquired by EU citizens with permanent residence. In summary, no member of the UK community in Spain feels that they have any certain guarantee to remain in Spain once the UK is no longer a member of the European Union. Moreover, although some UK citizens may be in a position to apply for Spanish citizenship (fulfilling conditions specified by the Spanish government), in Spain dual nationality is not allowed with the United Kingdom. The choice between retaining UK citizenship (and the practical difficulties when living in Spain) and applying for Spanish citizenship would be difficult and even traumatic: most UK citizens are proud of their origins and would not want to give up the citizenship of their birth, and the practical problem of continuing to obtain access to the UK if they do so.
  10. 10. 9 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 The right to work and do business in Spain Issues: - Work permits - Right of establishment (self-employment or running companies, agencies etc.) - Recognition of qualifications - Public-sector employment - Benefits Affects: - All workers, whether self-employed or employed by a third party - Benefit claimants - Employers. Concerns at the personal level: Workers and employers - Will I now need a work permit to stay in my current job? - Even if I don’t need a work permit to stay where I am, will I need one if I change my job? - My business is focussed mainly on the UK expat community and many of my staff are UK nationals. Will I have to apply for work permits for them all, once the UK leaves the EU? - If their applications are rejected, will I have a legal obligation to dismiss them against my will and who will be liable for compensation if I am then sued for unfair dismissal? - I have a seasonal need for temporary staff with UK experience and/or qualifications. Will I need work permits for these workers too? - I run a business in Spain, employing Spanish (and other) staff. Will I still be allowed to run the business? Will I need a specific permit? If I am not allowed
  11. 11. 10 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 to continue to operate the business, will the UK government compensate me for inevitable costs of dismissal and closing down the company, or selling it at a loss? - My qualifications to practise a regulated profession (e.g. doctor, dentist, nurse, veterinary surgeon, teacher, lawyer, architect, auditor, etc.) were recognised under European Directives. Will that recognition be maintained or will I have to re-apply as a non-EU national? - Will I have to undertake and pay for expensive further studies to re-qualify in my profession in order to comply with Spanish regulations?' - I got my current, public-sector job (e.g nurse, teacher, fireman, ambulance driver, municipal worker) through an “oposición” or competitive examination open to Spanish and other EU nationals. Will my “oposición” result still stand once I am no longer an EU national? Will I be entitled to sit further examinations to get promotion with the public sector? - I am a registered self-employed professional (lawyer, translator, English teacher, consultant, etc.) with the freedom to offer my services to people and companies within Spain. Will I continue to enjoy this right post-Brexit? If I am, will I have to apply for a permit and under what conditions? - Will my cumulative pension rights acquired in two or more EU countries continue to be recognised? - I have worked in Spain for several years but I am now out of work/unable to work through illness and I am currently receiving an unemployment/ disability allowance through the Spanish social security system. Will I maintain my rights to receive such allowances once I am no longer an EU citizen?
  12. 12. 11 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Healthcare in Spain Issues: - Future healthcare arrangements - Uninsurability of older UK citizens - Risk of no health cover at all for some UK citizens Affects: - All UK residents except for those already covered within the Spanish health service Concerns at the personal level: - Will the current healthcare arrangements for UK citizens in Spain remain in force, after Brexit? - Will the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) still be valid for British citizens resident in Spain when visiting the UK? - If, on the contrary, UK residents in Spain lose their right to healthcare from the Spanish health services I may be forced to take out private medical insurance but: o Will I be able to afford it? o Will I be able to find an insurance company willing to take me on at my age or in my state of health? - Could I ever find myself in a position in which no government accepts responsibility for my care, even though I may have contributed to the health system of the “wrong” country all through my working life?
  13. 13. 12 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 
 Pensions Issues: - Risk of reduced pensions due to the exchange rate - Risk that the UK government might freeze pensions - Aggregation of pension rights acquired in two or more EU countries Affects: - All UK pensioners and all UK workers with future pension rights Concerns at the personal level: - If the pound continues to fall, will it be enough for me to carry on living in Spain? - Will the UK government continue to update my pension in line with inflation or will it freeze my pension the way it already does for people in most other countries such as Australia, New Zealand or Canada? - The abolition of the winter fuel allowance, even for UK nationals living in the higher, colder parts of Spain, contributes to nervousness about this issue. - Will my past years of pension contributions in the UK and other EU countries continue to be aggregated when calculating my entitlement to a pension? Will my future contributions also be recognised?
  14. 14. 13 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Right to study Issues: - Freedom to study in the UK or other EU countries - Possible increase of fees at universities for some students - Loss of funding for Erasmus +, research and other programmes - Recognition of European and UK academic qualifications Affects: - University students (even if they do not study abroad, recognition of qualifications is still an issue) - Trainees - Participants in the Erasmus + scheme for education, training, youth and sport Concerns at the personal level: - How will Brexit affect the options of UK citizens in Spain who want to study in the UK? Will they be treated as international students and pay international student fees, and will the NHS cover them? - Will UK students already studying in Spain or other EU countries have to pay different fee levels post Brexit? Similarly, would Spanish students now be classified as international students and pay higher fees at UK universities? - If the UK leaves the EU, UK students already studying at University will not be eligible to apply for Erasmus semesters or Erasmus Masters schemes. - If and when the UK leaves the European Union, UK students and universities will no longer have access to EU funding, whether to cover Erasmus studies, research or other programmes. - How will Brexit affect the recognition of European academic qualifications of UK students, who already hold an Erasmus degree certificate? - If a UK student decides to stay in the European country in which they were studying, when they have finished their study program, will their rights to access job-seeking benefits be affected?
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  16. 16. 15 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 British education in Spain Issues: - Recognition of school-leaving qualifications - Work permits for teachers and other staff at British schools and British-owned language schools - UK university fees for pupils at British schools in Spain - Potential closure of large numbers of British schools and language schools in Spain Affects: - ≈ 50,000 schoolchildren - 120 British schools - ≈ 4,000 English language schools, 403 of which are members of the Federación Española de Centros de Enseñanza de Idiomas (FECEI) - Several thousand teachers and other school employees Concerns for schoolchildren and their parents At the last count, there were 120 British schools in Spain. They teach some 50,000 children from the UK, Spain and other countries, employ several thousand British teachers and transmit British values, while their pupils sit UK public examinations at GCSE and Advanced level. Their pupils (of all nationalities) account for a large percentage of UK undergraduates coming from Spain. UK school qualifications are currently recognised in Spain under legislation encompassing all EU countries and non-EU countries with whom Spain has signed a mutual recognition accord (currently only China). Post-Brexit, new Spanish legislation will be required if UK qualifications are to maintain their current status. Some of the reasons why the parents of these schoolchildren are worried - There is only one British school in my area. If it closes as a result of Brexit, my child will lose his/her chance to have a British education.
  17. 17. 16 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 - In a few years’ time. my children will be sitting UK examinations. By then, will their qualifications still be recognised in Spain? - If their qualifications won’t be recognised in future, what is the point of sending them to a British school? - Even if their qualifications are recognised, I won’t be able to send my child to a UK university if its fees increase to a level I can’t afford as a result of Brexit. I might as well send my child to a Spanish school if he’s going to go to a Spanish university anyway. Why British school owners and their staff are worried Recruitment Because British schools in Spain teach to the English National Curriculum, most of their teachers are UK nationals who currently do not need a work permit.The recruitment of staff for each new academic year happens when schools have a good idea of how many teachers they will need to replace others who are retiring or moving on. Supply teachers are taken on as and when needed and the only limits are cost and availability. If, in future, UK citizens have to apply for work permits (usually a lengthy process) judging new staffing needs in time will become extremely problematic and with no guarantee that the permits will actually be granted. Supply teachers are normally taken on to replace staff absent through sickness or for some other reason and the need is therefore unpredictable. It is difficult to imagine a work permit system sufficiently flexible to respond to this kind of need within a practical time frame. Recognition of qualifications If the UK leaves the EU, we shall probably need new Spanish legislation or a mutual recognition accord between Spain and the UK for our school qualifications to remain valid for public sector employment purposes and for entry to Spanish universities. Continued recognition of UK school qualifications is essential to the survival of all UK schools in Spain.
  18. 18. 17 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 The principal examination boards in Spain are Cambridge International examinations (CIE) and Pearson (heirs to London University Examination Board), followed by AQA. In 2016, over 7,000 candidates in Spain were entered for more than 23,000 examinations. Fee status of Spain-resident children at UK universities One of the many attractions of the British schools in Spain is the large numbers of pupils of all nationalities who go on to study at UK universities. These students currently enjoy Home Student status, their fees are capped at £ 9,250 per annum (2017 rate) and they are entitled to an income-contingent loan to cover their fees. If they go to Oxford or Cambridge, they are exempt from college fees. If, as a result of Brexit, they became Overseas Students, they would have to pay: - the Overseas Student rate - college fees at Oxford and Cambridge - pay all fees up front as they would have no loan entitlement The following chart illustrates what this would mean for a typical spread of universities and courses at 2017 rates: Overseas Student Tuition Fees 2017/2018 Economic s Chemistr y or Similar Medicine* College fees** Imperial College N/A £28,000 £38,500 N/A Middlesex £11,500 £12,000 N/A N/A Manchester £17,000 £21,000 £38,000 N/A Oxford £18,080 £23,190 £31,935 £7,350 Cambridge £16,608 £25,275 £40,200 £5670- £7980 Edinburgh £17,700 £23,200 £49,900 N/A Cardiff £15,080 £18,980 £33,540 N/A Queen's University, Belfast £18,521 £23,060 £44,035 N/A
  19. 19. 18 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 * The fees shown are for the Clinical years. The first two years of a Medicine degree tend to be classified as pre-Clinical and tuition for these years is generally charged at a lower rate. ** The cost of college fees has to be added to the tuition fees for each course.   The fees shown are in Pounds sterling per year and they may be increased yearly to take into account inflation.        
  20. 20. 19 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Political rights Issues: - The right to vote in Spain - The right to stand as candidates in municipal and European elections - General disenfranchisement in both countries Affects: - All UK adults of voting age in Spain Concerns at the personal level: - I lost my right to vote in UK elections after an absence of more than 15 years. Although different governments have promised to restore my British rights, nothing has happened so far and I was unable to vote in the referendum. At present, my only voting rights are now limited to municipal and European elections but I look likely to lose even these rights once the UK leaves the European Union, leaving me as a totally disenfranchised voter but a totally liable taxpayer. Will the British government either legislate or negotiate to ensure that I will be able to vote in either Spain or the United Kingdom? - I am municipal councillor in my Spanish village elected until 24 May 2019, just before or just after the likely date of the UK’s departure from the EU. If Brexit happens before new elections, will I have to stand down as councillor? - If Brexit is timed to happen after the new round of municipal elections, will I be allowed to stand as a candidate? 

  21. 21. 20 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 Returning to the UK Issues: - Forced return to the UK because of economic circumstances or a loss of the right of abode in Spain Affects: - All UK residents in Spain Concerns at the personal level: What awaits returning expats who have been out of the country for several years? - If I lose my right to remain in Spain as a result of the UK’s leaving the EU, or if I retain my right of abode but have to return to the UK for financial reasons (reduced income, loss of the right to work, difficulties in running a business on the grounds of nationality, etc.): - Will I continue to be entitled to claim the same rights that I enjoyed before I left the country (such as healthcare on the NHS (especially if if I have been contributing to the Social Security in another EU country for a large part of my working lifetime), income support, housing benefit or Disabled Living Allowance)? - I have private medical insurance in Spain in addition to the normal public health service cover as an EU citizen. Will this private cover be transferable back to the UK (I am probably too old (or chronically ill) to take out a new private health policy with another insurer)? - I have funeral insurance with a Spanish company. Will it cover me for a funeral back in the UK? - With the property crash in Spain, most of us have houses that are now worth less than what we paid for them.
  22. 22. 21 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017 - Even so, there is no guarantee that we shall all find buyers within the available time frame. - Those of us who have no mortgage and do manage to find a buyer will still find it difficult to re-enter the UK property market so when we go back our accommodation options will be severely limited. - Most of those with mortgages find ourselves saddled with have negative equity on our properties. Even if we manage to find a buyer or, worse still, if our houses are repossessed, we shall continue to owe money to the banks and will have no funds with which to buy property back in the UK. - The trauma of enforced repatriation is likely to produce severe mental and physical health problems, as well as added responsibilities for our UK- based families. - The majority of returnees for economic reasons will be at the low end of the income spectrum - will they be entitled to the allowances and other income support that applies to their compatriots that never left the county? - Will their families get support if they have to house and feed returning expatriates with limited financial means? - Will I even be returning to the UK or some other country if Scotland votes to leave the Union and/or Northern Ireland merges with the Irish Republic? - All of these issues are internal ones to be resolved unilaterally by the UK government and full information and reassurances should not need to await the outcome of disengagement negotiations. ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Once upon a time: “The holder of this (British) passport is entitled to remain in Spain for six months …” Could it happen again?
  23. 23. 22 EuroCitizens Brexit and the UK community in Spain February 2017