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BREXIT

‘Brexit terms must be respected’: EU’s Barnier sends message to Boris Johnson

The Brexit terms that Britain agreed to before formally exiting the European Union "must be respected," chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said Monday, after reports that London might seek legislation to override key parts of the deal.

'Brexit terms must be respected': EU's Barnier sends message to Boris Johnson
Michel Barnier arrives at 10 Downing Street for Brexit talks. AFP

“Everything that has been signed must be respected,” Barnier told France Inter radio, in response to a Financial Times report claiming British Premier Boris Johnson wanted to revise agreements on Northern Ireland and state aid.

Barnier said he would discuss the report with his British counterpart David Frost during an eighth round of negotiations on a future trade deal this week.

“The important thing for me is what the prime minister says and does, and what the British government itself says and does,” he said.

Regarding Northern Ireland, Barnier insisted that under the withdrawal deal it will continue to apply the EU's single market rules, intended to avoid a “hard border” with Ireland but which would effectively create a trade border in the Irish Sea.

The move is meant to avoid reviving sectarian tensions between Ireland and Northern Ireland that were largely calmed by the Good Friday Agreement of 1998.

“No land border is the pre-requisite for peace since the end of the conflict… and it's the pre-requisite for a united and coherent economy for the entire island, and also to respect the single market,” Barnier said.

Talk of changing the Withdrawal Agreement has naturally prompted concerns among Britons in Europe and the citizens rights groups.

 

Johnson said Sunday that a trade deal with the EU must be reached by October 15, in order for it to be in force by the end of this year.

“If we can't agree by then, then I do not see that there will be a free trade agreement between us,” he said in a statement released by his office.

Britain formally left the 27-member bloc on January 31, but remains bound by EU rules while it tries to thrash out new terms of its relationship.

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BANKING

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

UK nationals living in Spain have begun to receive letters from their bank telling them that their accounts will be closed, in an apparent post-Brexit change. Have you been affected?

Banking giant Barclays to close all accounts of Brits living in Spain

Customers of Barclays Bank who are living in Spain and other EU countries have been receiving letters telling them that their UK accounts will be closed by the end of the year. 

A number of readers of The Local’s network of news websites have contacted us to report receiving either letters or messages in their online banking telling them that their accounts would be closed because of their residency in Spain or in other countries in the EU.

A Barclays spokesperson told The Local: “As a ring fenced bank, our Barclays UK products are designed for customers within the UK.

“We will no longer be offering services to personal current account or savings customers (excluding ISAs) within the European Economic Area. We are contacting impacted customers to give them advance notice of this decision and outline the next steps they need to take.”  

Customers are being given six months to make alternative arrangements. The changes affect all personal current accounts or savings accounts, but do not affect ISAs, loans or mortgages.

During the Brexit transition period Barclays closed Barclaycard accounts of customers in Spain, but did not indicate any changes to standard bank accounts.

READ MORE: 

Around the same time several other British high street banks began closing accounts of British customers who live in the EU, although with the exception of Barclaycard customers in Spain who were largely spared.

Many UK nationals who live in Spain maintain at least one UK bank account – in addition to a Spanish account – sometimes just for savings but others use their accounts regularly to receive income such as pensions or income from rental property or – for remote workers – to receive income for work done in the UK.

Not having a UK bank account can make financial transactions in the UK more complicated or incur extra banking fees.

READ MORE: What are the best UK banks for Brits in Spain?

Since Brexit, the UK banking sector no longer has access to the ‘passporting’ system which allows banks to operate in multiple EU countries without having to apply for a separate banking licence for each country.

And it seems that many UK high street banks are deciding that the extra paperwork is not worth the hassle and are withdrawing completely from certain EU markets. 

When British banks began withdrawing services from customers in the EU back in 2020, a UK government spokesman told British newspaper The Times that “the provision of banking services is a commercial decision for firms based on a number of factors” so Brits in Spain probably shouldn’t hold their breath for any help from that direction.

READ ALSO: Premium Bond holders in Spain may have to cash in if no UK bank account

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