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BREXIT

Europe & You: An interesting new Brexit poll and what’s Switzerland’s problem with the EU?

Here's our latest Europe & You newsletter covering everything from a French warning for Boris Johnson, an interesting new Brexit poll and a look at Switzerland's problem with the EU.

Europe & You: An interesting new Brexit poll and what's Switzerland's problem with the EU?
What's Switzerland's problem with the EU? Photo: happyalexDepositphotos

Hi to all our readers,

First of all a call to help.

British in Europe are hoping to launch a legal campaign over the fact many Britons in the EU were denied a vote in the recent European elections either via their postal or proxy votes.

Did you have problems casting your vote back in the UK? If so read this.

Despite what many Leave voters might have you believe things are not all rosy between Switzerland and the EU.

In fact the Swiss have a big problem with Brussels right now which is preventing them putting pen to paper on a new deal. This article explains all you need to know about the deadlock.

Earlier this month the results of an extensive new Brexit survey were published by YouGov (see below). It makes for interesting viewing and Sue Wilson from Bremain in Spain looks at what it all might mean, especially for the new Tory leader.

All eyes are on the battle to become the next Prime Minister with Boris Johnson leading the race after the first round of votes.

EU leaders will no doubt be bracing themselves for the increasingly likely event that Johnson moves in to Number 10, not least because he said that he would refuse to pay Britain's divorce bill until the EU agreed better withdrawal terms.

We will see if he sticks to this stance but the French had a word of warning for him this week. There may be trouble ahead. In fact there definitely will be trouble ahead.

Another of the candidates to be Tory leader is Jeremy Hunt who has suggested German Chancellor Angela Merkel told him the EU would be open to renegotiating the Withdrawal Agreement. But did she really?

And the EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier had this to say on the matter on Friday:  “I repeat calmly that the United Kingdom still wants to leave the European Union… so the agreement that is on the table is the only agreement possible for an orderly withdrawal.”

Everyone has had different ways of dealing with the Brexit vote. Some have taken up campaigning, other have buried their heads in the sand, while others reacted in more extreme ways, like one British man who is so angry about the Brexit he's decided to walk it off over several weeks.

Here are a selection of stories from around Europe that might interest you.

Spain: What you need to know if you are in a road traffic accident in Spain

France: How France killed its small towns and why money is not the answer

Germany: Why it's a myth you need to know German to get a job

Sweden: How teen activist Greta Thunberg is forcing the aviation industry to change

Denmark: How robots are helping out at Danish hospitals

Switzerland: Switzerland ranked worst in Europe for being family-friendly

Italy: The 25 stats that help explain Italy today

Remember, if you want to follow The Local more closely you can download our phone Apps from the Apple or Play store for both Android and Apple phones.

Thanks for reading and for your support.

Ben McPartland
[email protected]
Managing Editor, The Local Europe

 

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BREXIT

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

British drivers living in Spain are becoming increasingly disgruntled at the lack of solutions two weeks after they were told their UK licences were no longer valid, with the latest update from the UK Embassy suggesting it could still take "weeks" to reach a deal. 

Anger grows as no solution found yet for in limbo UK drivers in Spain 

There is growing discontent among UK licence holders residing in Spain who are currently in limbo, unable to drive in Spain until they either get a Spanish driving licence or a deal is finally reached between Spanish and UK authorities for the mutual exchange of licences post-Brexit.

Since May 1st 2022, drivers who’ve been residents in Spain for more than six months and who weren’t able to exchange their UK licences for Spanish ones cannot drive in Spain.

There are no official stats on how many Britons of the 407,000 UK nationals who are residents in Spain in 2022 are affected; according to the UK Embassy the “majority exchanged” as advised.

But judging by the amount of negative comments the last two updates from the British Embassy in Madrid have received, hundreds if not thousands are stuck without being able to drive in Spain.  

May 12th’s video message by Ambassador Hugh Elliott left many unhappy with the fact that the forecast for a possible licence exchange agreement will be in the “coming weeks”, when two weeks earlier Elliott had spoken of “rapidly accelerating talks”. 

Dozens of angry responses spoke of the “shocking” and “absolutely ridiculous” holdup in negotiations that have been ongoing for more than at least a year and a half, and which the UK Embassy has put down to the fact that Spain is asking the British government to give them access to DVLA driver data such as road offences, something “not requested by other EU Member States”.

Numerous Britons have explained the setbacks not being able to drive in Spain are causing them, from losing their independence to struggling to go to work, the hospital or the supermarket, especially those in rural areas with little public transport.  

“I know personally from all the messages you’ve sent in, just how incredibly disruptive all of this is for many of you,” Elliott said in response. 

“If you are struggling to get around you may find additional advice or support from your local town hall, or charities or community groups in your area and the Support in Spain website is another very useful source of organisations that can provide general support to residents.

“And if your inability to drive is putting you in a very vulnerable situation, you can always contact your nearest consulate for advice.”

There continue to be disparaging opinions in the British community in Spain over whether any pity should be felt for UK licence holders stuck without driving, as many argue they had enough time to register intent to exchange their licences, whilst others clarify that their particular set of circumstances, such as arriving after the December 2020 ‘intent to exchange’ deadline, made this impossible. 

OPINION: Not all Brits in Spain who didn’t exchange UK driving licences are at fault

So is there any light at the end of the tunnel for drivers whose UK licences aren’t valid anymore in Spain or soon won’t be?

“The agreement we’re working towards now will enable UK licence holders, whenever they arrived in Spain or arrive in the future, to exchange their UK licence for a Spanish one without needing to take a practical or a theory test,” Elliott said on Thursday May 12th of the deal they are “fully committed” to achieve.

READ ALSO: How much does it cost to get a Spanish driving licence?

And yet it’s hard for anyone to rest their hopes on this necessarily happening – sooner or later or ever – in part because the embassy advice for those with UK licences for whom it’s imperative to continue driving in Spain is that they should take steps to get their Spanish licence now, while acknowledging that in some places there are “long delays for lessons” and getting your Spanish licence “doesn’t happen overnight”.

READ ALSO: What now for UK licence holders in Spain?

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