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Introducing the new British Ambassador to Spain

New British Ambassador Hugh Elliott has taken up his post in Madrid and will be be presenting his credentials to King Felipe VI this week.

Introducing the new British Ambassador to Spain
HMA Hugh Elliott presents his credenials to King Felipe VI this week. Photo: British Embassy/FCO

Hugh Elliott, a member of the UK’s Diplomatic Service since 1989, succeeds Simon Manley as Her Majesty’s Ambassador to Spain and non-resident Ambassador to Andorra.

The Ambassador takes up this new role having previously been Director of Communications in the Department for Exiting the European Union. On his arrival, Hugh Elliott said: “With a wealth of cultural, commercial, and people-to-people links, the relationship between the UK and Spain is like no other, and I am proud and honoured to represent my Queen and country here in Spain.”

For the Ambassador, this strong connection with Spain has been an important part of his life for decades. “I met my wife Toñi while working as an English teacher at the University of Salamanca, Spain was my first diplomatic posting in the nineties and my two children were born in Madrid. I can understand why so many UK nationals have chosen to make Spain their home,” he said.

He added that “We are approaching an important milestone as the UK prepares to leave the European Union on 31st October”.

His message was one of reassurance to UK nationals currently living in Spain that “We’ve given EU citizens living in the UK the legal certainty of their right to live and remain in the United Kingdom. And I’m very pleased that the Spanish Government has put in place, through the Royal Decree, the same guarantees for British citizens in Spain.”

Mr Elliott acknowledged that people have questions and concerns, and undertook that he and his team would be working hard to answer them. He also urged people to sign up to the Living in Guide (gov.uk/living-in-spain) where they will find the latest, accurate information on Brexit.

Reiterating the final message given by departing ambassador Simon Manley as he left office, the British Embassy reminded UK nationals that they should do two things ahead of Brexit: Ensure that they are correctly registered as a resident and registered for healthcare as a resident.

They encourage Brits in Spain to sign up to the Living in Spain guide on gov.uk and by joining the Brits in Spain Facebook community.

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BREXIT

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.

  

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