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BREXIT

‘It’s time to put Brexit behind us’: EU chiefs sign trade deal with UK

EU chiefs Ursula von der Leyen and Charles Michel signed the post-Brexit trade deal agreed with Britain on Wednesday morning.

'It's time to put Brexit behind us': EU chiefs sign trade deal with UK
President of the European Commission Ursula von der Leyen signs the Brexit trade deal. Photo: Johanna Geron/AFP

After that the EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement was being taken to London, where UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson was to add his signature.

In a statement, the European Commission said the deal would be implemented on only a provisional basis, as there has not been time for the EU parliament to vote on it.

But, with the UK parliament due to ratify the text later on Wednesday, this should be enough to head off the threat of a no-deal divorce on January 1st.

“On January 1st we say 'Hello, Goodbye' to the United Kingdom,” German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas, whose country holds the rotating EU presidency, said in a statement.

“With the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom will be effectively leaving the European single market and the customs union. At the same time, we will enter into our new comprehensive partnership.”

“It has been a long road. It's time now to put Brexit behind us,” tweeted European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen. “Our future is made in Europe.”

If Britain had left the EU single market at the end of the year without a trade deal, renewed tariffs and quotes would have damaged cross-Channel trade.

As it is, there will still be a return to a customs and regulatory border after a half-century of close integration, and some level of disruption, not least for Brits living in the EU and Europeans in Britain.

But both sides hope the deal, a hard-fought compromise after ten months of intense negotiations, will form a stable basis to build a new, looser partnership.

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BREXIT

Britons investigated for using fake documents to stay in Spain after Brexit

Spanish national police are investigating four British citizens who allegedly forged padrón documents in order to gain residency status in Spain after Brexit. One of them has been arrested in the Canary island of Tenerife.

Britons investigated for using fake documents to stay in Spain after Brexit

Spanish police investigators, through the Immigration Office of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, have discovered the possible existence of fraud in some post-Brexit residence applications.

After carrying out the necessary checks, they found that at least four residency application requests had been made using false documents which claimed their registration at their local town halls (padrón) were prior to Brexit coming into force.

British citizens wanting to apply for residency after Brexit and be protected under the Withdrawal Agreement (WA) have to prove they were living in Spain before the end of 2020 through documents such as their padrón certificate or private medical insurance. 

READ ALSO: 16 things you should know about Spain’s padrón town hall registration

The four British nationals in question are based in the southern part of the Canary Island of Tenerife and one of them, who was on the island at the time of investigation, has been arrested. The investigation is ongoing and new arrests haven’t been ruled out. 

This is not the first time that fake applications and falsified documents have been used by British citizens to try and gain Spanish residency after Brexit.

Having WA protected status makes the residency application simpler and grants more rights than for Brits applying after Brexit as non-EU nationals, as they don’t have to prove a large amount of savings and they can apply for jobs in the same way as EU nationals, among many other advantages.  

In November 2021, the UK Embassy warned UK Nationals against submitting fraudulent residency applications – either directly or through a third party.

“They are particularly on the alert for forged healthcare insurance, padrón certificates and lease contracts, as well as people falsely claiming student status,” the embassy wrote on their Facebook page.

There were also reports of fraudulent gestores (similar to lawyers) in Spain targeting non-EU citizens ‘to help’ with residence applications.

Since Brexit came into force in 2021, the main reasons why UK nationals’ residency applications have been rejected have come as a result of them not ‘regularising’ their situation in Spain, in other words registering at the town hall or immigration office, as well not being able to prove that they were living in the country before the end of 2020 when the UK left the EU.  

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