REPORTS in the British Press have left some Costa Blanca Expats feeling anxious, as they wonder what a break down of the euro will mean for them.
Talks of D-Day for the euro currency, which is predicted to come during the early part of 2012 have sent ripples across the European Community, and no more so then the thriving expat communities in Spain, who wonder how a return to the peseta would affect their financial position.
A series of UK polls and EU Referendum Campaigns have revealed that, in the face of all of the recent bad publicity surrounding the euro zone, the Great British public is keen to pull away from Europe altogether and “regain its independence”. This is also the opinion of many expats, who relocated to Spain to escape from the “deteriorating” country which in their eyes, Britain had become.
Retired Accountant, Dennis Harper, from Ciudad Quesada, said that “Britain was wealthy and powerful before it joined the EU, and now it seems to have been crushed due to its weaker European partners.” His wife Sarah added that “We moved to Spain because it was part of Europe, and we were informed that movement within the EU would be a simple process. The reality is that we are not welcome here, and regarded as Foreigners, as opposed to Europeans!
We do not seem to have the same opportunities or welfare benefits as Spaniards, and becoming registered in their system is a complete nightmare, in spite of it all being part of “the same continent”. Meanwhile, Sales Advisor, Ian Mitchell, from Rojales, agrees that the idea of a united Europe is wonderful in theory, but does not happen in practice.
He complained that “As foreign residents, not only do we have very little influence over what happens in Spain, we also lose all of our rights in the UK, such as free health care; and the right to vote, which is stripped from us after being out of the country for 15 years.
Some expats still contribute to the UK tax system or work for UK companies here, but this does not seem to give them any power or rights in either country. I feel that my move to Spain ten years ago has made me a prisoner to the system, with no freedom to challenge it and no easy route back into Britain!”
It seems that they are not alone in their disappointment in the EU Empire, as a recent “YouGov” poll revealed that two-thirds of Conservative voters would opt to leave the EU in the incidence of a referendum, with 62 per cent of all voters agreeing that this was the way forward during the last elections.
Many expats are more than a little concerned as to the consequences should Britain opt out of the EU altogether, and wonder if this would also result in Spain ‘booting them out’ of the country, due to withdrawal of their rights to free movement as EU citizens, or at least making life even more difficult for them.
But in reality, how easy would it be for them to return to Britain if they were urged to do that? Retired Secretary Annette Tailor from Torrevieja is among those who feels stuck in limbo as a result of the present economy. She said that “My husband and I are desperate to return to the UK as we are struggling to make our pension cover the cost of living here following the fall of the pound against the euro. However, we cannot sell our Spanish property, and even if we did we would find it difficult to afford anything close to what we are used to in the UK. We are not at a time of our lives when we would want to start borrowing money and I don’t think that the banks would be too happy about lending it to us either!”
Sales Assistant, Lisa Marshall, from Torrevieja said that “I have two young children who were both born in Spain, so have Spanish nationality. I thought that this would be the best way for them to be accepted as Spaniards and provide increased opportunities for their future. However, I now have friends with older children who were also born here, who still struggle to be accepted and continue to take second place for jobs etc against other Spaniards, due to their heritage. Therefore, the dilemma that I have is that my kids will be seen as “foreigners” wherever they go!
She went on to admit that “I am particularly afraid of what the consequences will be for my family if Britain breaks away from the EU. I could probably return to England and continue my old life as a British citizen.
But my kids are Spanish so would they have less entitlement there, as English youngsters do here?
Its very difficult for me because every parent wants the best for their children, but on reflection I think that having them here in Spain could have ruined their hopes of a happy and prosperous future”.
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EWN Exclusive by Heidi Wardman