Brussels ‘to fast-track offer’ for British nationals in Spain to remain EU citizens

The European Union’s Brexit negotiators will offer British people a chance to individually remain part of the EU, according to media reports in Britain.

Brussels 'to fast-track offer' for British nationals in Spain to remain EU citizens
Photo: AFP
There was potentially some good news on Friday for all those Brits in Spain who were unhappy about the EU referednum result.

The Independent newspaper claimed on Friday that Guy Verhofstadt, the man put in charge of Brexit negotiations by the European parliament, will fast-track a proposal that would allow Brits to opt-in and maintain their EU citizenship.

It had already been revealed that the EU was considering a plan to allow Brits to stay as EU citizens but Verhofstadt has now “fast-tracked the idea to the negotiating table”, the Independent writes.

Verhofstadt described the proposal as “very important” and that it had “captured the imagination and hopes” of many British people who wished to retain their rights as EU citizens.

According to the Independent the chief negotiator told the European Parliament's committee on constitutional affairs: “It is an important amendment that has captured the imagination and hopes of many of the 48 per cent of Brits that have voted to remain in the EU. You will all have received many emails about this – and there has been many articles about this.

“It has therefore become a very important issue that cannot await treaty change – as envisaged by MP Charles Goerens when he first tabled it.

“I am therefore proposing to remove it from my report – which after all is concerned with Treaty change – and to include it in the negotiations we will have with the UK government. I as Brexit negotiator for the Parliament will ensure that it is included in the parliament’s negotiating mandate.”

Under the plan Brits would be offered individual “associate citizenship” which would allow them to hold on to their freedom of movement across the Union and therefore live and work wherever in the EU they choose.

They would also be allowed to vote in European elections.

That could potentially save Brits in Spain the hassle of either having to apply for a long term residency permit – or get Spanish citizenship, both of which many British nationals in Spain have been making efforts to get since the June referendum.

READ ALSO: Worried after Brexit? Here's how to become Spanish


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Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

The Spanish government has confirmed that it will not extend its reciprocal healthcare agreements with Gibraltar, meaning that from July 1st 2022, it will come to an end.

Reciprocal healthcare agreements between Spain and Gibraltar end

When the UK left the EU on December 31st 2020, both sides agreed that the UK’s EHIC European healthcare cards could still be used until their expiry dates.

This card provided British travellers with free state-provided medical care in the EU in case of emergencies.

Beyond their five year period of validity, EHIC cards are no longer valid and travellers have to apply for the new Global Heath Insurance Card (GHIC) instead. 

Spain made a separate agreement with Gibraltar under its Royal Brexit Decree in which unilateral arrangements would be maintained in the territory and extended until June 30th 2022.

During the meeting of the Spanish Council of Ministers on Tuesday, the Spanish Government decided not to extend the agreement further, meaning that residents of Gibraltar will no longer be able to benefit from it.

In a statement the government of Gibraltar said: “It would have been HMGoG’s preference for these arrangements, which deeply affect citizens on either side of the border on matters as essential as healthcare, to have been maintained. Indeed, HMGoG was prepared to continue with them”.

“However, because reciprocity is a key element to these arrangements which cannot work without coordination and provisions for reimbursement of costs etc., HMGoG is left with no option but to discontinue them also in so far as treatment in Gibraltar is concerned,” it continued. 

What does this mean?

Gibraltar residents insured under Gibraltar’s Group Practice Medical Scheme will, after 30th June 2022, no longer be able to access free emergency healthcare in Spain during a temporary stay in the country. 

Those who are residents in Spain who travel over to Gibraltar will not have access to free healthcare on The Rock either. 

As a consequence, if a resident of Gibraltar falls ill or has an accident while over the border in Spain or the same for a Spanish resident in Gibraltar, they will have to pay for healthcare.

The government of Gibraltar is encouraging its citizens from July 1st 2022 to have appropriate travel insurance with medical cover each time they visit Spain.

This means that even those who are hopping over the border for few hours such as for a shopping trip or going out for dinner will have to make sure that they have adequate health insurance. 

“Where medical attention is required the costs incurred may be considerable, so you should ensure you have adequate insurance cover or alternatively the means to pay,” the Gibraltar government said in their statement.