Spain and Britain’s governments have decided to streamline a deal that will protect the rights of its expat citizens in either country post March 29th, the day the UK leaves the EU.
The bilateral agreement will guarantee that Brits in Spain and Spaniards in the UK can continue to vote in local elections, or elecciones municipales as they are known in Spain.
Until now, Britain’s impending break-away from the EU was set to leave both groups without any voting rights in their country of residence, whereas as part of the bloc, registered residents even had the right to stand as candidates in local elections.
There are in fact currently 37 locally elected British town and city councillors in Spain, mostly in Comunidad Valenciana and Andalusia, the two Spanish regions with the highest number of British residents.
The current negotiation will ensure that the 280,000 Brits officially residing in Spain keep these two rights and will be able place their ballots – or stand – in Spain’s next local elections in May 2019.
That’s regardless of whether or not there’s a no-deal Brexit scenario which causes Brits to lose their EU rights as of March 30th 2019, rather than in December 2020, the month in which the transition breakaway period is scheduled to end in the event of a deal.
This deal is of course a reciprocal one which will be treated as an international treaty that has to be ratified by Spain and Britain’s parliaments.
According to leading Spanish daily El País, the agreement is being “negotiated at top speed” between May and Sánchez’s government but diplomatic sources did tell the paper it’s unlikely to be approved and ready in time for Spain’s local elections on May 26, 2019.
Spain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs is therefore prepared for the agreement to come into action in a provisional sense as soon as the initial frame line is agreed upon.
Spanish Minister of Foreign Affairs Josep Borrell is also calling on the UK Embassy in Madrid to encourage the “several tens of thousands” of Brits in Spain who aren’t registered yet to do so in order to guarantee that they are protected by other contingency plans set to be rolled out including residency, health and work post Brexit in Spain.
For this the UK must deliver the same rights to the 115,000 Spaniards residing in “Gran Bretaña”.
Spain's local elections next May will determine which councillors are chosen in the country's 8,116 municipalities and what seats political parties hold in the 38 provincial councils.
The municipal elections will be held simultaneously with regional elections in most of Spain's autonomous communities.