Whilst Brexit remains clouded in uncertainty a couple of the key issues for UK citizens resident (or planning to be) in Galicia have become a little clearer, so here’s a quick update.
Right to reside (do it soon or you won’t be able to)
Assuming that Brexit as currently being proposed by the Conservative minority government does come to pass, the UK’s hardline stance on immigration would inevitably be reciprocated in Europe for UK citizens. This will mean that after Brexit day a UK citizen who is not already resident in Spain will no longer have the right to reside permanently there.
Although there currently isn’t an agreed position on the rights of UK citizens already resident in Spain on Brexit day, all the noises from both the EU and the UK are that this group will retain more or less the same rights as at present via the UK’s EU membership.
The other important point is the definition of Brexit day. Whilst the Conservative government had initially been pushing for the date of the UK’s notification to leave the EU (29th March 2017) to constitute Brexit day, the EU has stuck firmly to the line that whilst the UK remains a member of the EU, which is to say until 29th March 2019, the rights of all EU citizens as defined by EU law must be respected. As there has been no further noise about this it’s safe to assume that 29th March 2019 is the agreed date by which a UK citizen must be permanently resident in another EU country (Spain) in order to benefit from the one-off arrangements for displaced citizens that will accompany Brexit.
However, anyone considering going down to the wire on this should do some careful research in case, for example, a 3 month period must be spent in the country in order to apply for permanent residency.
State healthcare for UK citizens (retirees) in Spain (good news!)
Under EU law retired citizens of EU country A who become permanent residents in EU country B are eligible for full state healthcare provided by country B (where they live) but paid for by country A (where they paid social security contributions during their working lives). Therefore UK citizens of pensionable age permanently resident in Spain receive Spanish state healthcare access for which the UK pays.
Spain presumably at least covers costs from providing healthcare for the 100,000+ UK pensioners permanently resident here, and providing this service maintains a lot of jobs. The UK (even notwithstanding current staffing shortages being exacerbated by Brexit) would struggle to cope with a sudden influx of pensioners unable to afford to continue living in Spain due to the need to purchase private healthcare …so it always made sense that current reciprocal healthcare arrangements be continued. However Brexit and common sense is not a combination that can be assumed, and so it’s comforting news for UK pensioners already living in Spain (and any who become permanent residents here before March 29th 2019) that the continuation of reciprocal healthcare arrangements seems to have been agreed.
Unfortunately this remains bleak. The pound, currently worth 1,10€ is now some 25% below its Euro value before the prospect of the Brexit vote going leave began to be taken seriously, voting rights (local and EU) look certain to be lost as does the right to move to another EU country and EU-wide benefits (such as child support).
On the bright side, at least any UK citizen already living in Galicia or who moves here permanently before 29th March 2019 won’t have to live in post-Brexit Britain!