Spain’s foreign minister plays aggressive hand on healthcare and Gibraltar

Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo.

SLOWLY but surely Spain is laying its cards on the table as Britain prepares to leave the EU. With almost a million British citizens living in the country, and a centuries-old dispute over Gibraltar, Spain is perhaps the UK’s most intimately connected European partner, and the country with the most sway over key elements of the divorce settlement. 

If the words of foreign minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo are anything to go by, Spain intends to levy all the pressure it can during negotiations to secure itself a favourable outcome. 

Speaking at a conference in Alicante, where he described euro-scepticism as “regressive”, Margallo said that Britain would have to pay for all the healthcare costs of its citizens living in Spain. He also poured cold water on the idea that Britain might secure a Canada-style waiver scheme absolving it of 99 per cent of healthcare tariffs. 


On Gibraltar Margallo froze out Boris Johnson by sending every other foreign minister in the EU a letter urging them to exclude the issue from wider Brexit talks, allowing it to be handled bilaterally. 

Spain can then use the Rock as a bargaining chip in direct talks with the UK, and threaten to veto any Brexit deal favourable to British interests, unless it makes some headway with its Gibraltar aspirations.


  1. I just wanted to make things right. I guess that’s not possible with you Mike, but it was worth a try.

    Thanks for your contribution at the top, John at EWN. Here’s a reference to another Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band song from 1968 that I loved then and still love to this day. You’ll probably remember:
    “My Pink Half of the Drainpipe.”

    Says it all really. Worth a listen – again. You can Google it or even better, search on YouTube. You get stop-motion animated plasticine models on the video by Nick Tyler. It only plays the right hand channel of the stereo recording, but hey! Who cares? Guess what though? The lyrics are as relevant today as they were away back in 1968.  No surprises there then, eh?

  2. That’s fine. However, Garcia-Margallo must also realise that Spain would have to pay for all the healthcare costs of its citizens living in the UK. Now, ask the many Spanish people living and working in the UK, who they will vote for at the next Spanish election.

  3. Britain already pays all the healthcare bills for British people who are treated here on the Spanish healthcare unless they are in the Spanish system, in which case the Spanish will still have to pay their health care… the same works vice versa. Maybe someone should kick these politicians to waken them up to what actually happens in the country they are supposed to be running and stop acting like little Franco’s that they openly condem! Is it any wonder they can’t make this country work, it is a gold mine just waiting to be mined and they still can’t figure out how to dig a hole because they are all so busy running around looking for nuggets on the surface that they can pick up to put in their own pockets:-)

    I remember reading somewhere that the UK actually pays its health bills that are sent from Spain and other countries fairly much right away while the Spanish are one of the slowest payers to payback other countries that send them their bills under the same agreement.

    Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo is a stereotype of most Spanish politicians, a total and fully fledged useless clown!
    No apologies given… at least be me anyway 🙂

  4. Is he the foreign minister in name only seeing as Spain can’t even manage to form a government. They are fast becoming the laughing stock of Europe.

  5. Spain is actually only halfway to Belgium´s record for the longest time spent without a government. I live in the Canaries, where we get plenty of tourists. If you ask people from anywhere else, you will find that the laughing stock of Europe title is currently held by Britain for its impressive entry: “Why not leave a reliable if occasionally annoying trading bloc and take back the control hardly anyone ever had?” Spain has a long way to go to win that title.

  6. [quote]It’s only right & proper that Spain bills UK & others for the healthcare costs of citizens & vica versa.

    I see no problem whatsoever.[/quote]
    Spain is over billing the U.K. for health & the U.K. Is under billing all EU countries that’s one of the major problems

  7. You have to consider that situations are quite diferent; one can assume that very few Spanish choose to move to spend their retirement in Britain; most Spaniards in Britain, on the other hand, are either workers or retired after a career in Britain, and as such contribute to NHS by their taxes. If Britain wants to be out, the issue has to be discussed. Nobody would assume that British retiring in Florida should come Under the scope of Medicare.

  8. Obviously you are talking to the wrong people, anyone that thinks as the statement you have just made “Why not leave a reliable if occasionally annoying trading bloc and take back the control hardly anyone ever had?” is either very stupid or hasn’t a clue on what they are talking about or what the reasons where in the UK voting to leave.
    I am at a total loss to the ignorance of many people and I can assure you, the title you refer to means nothing to others outside the dimwit society! 🙂

    Sit back, laugh and criticise but watch as the UK flourishes outside the EU while the rest of those that remain just slip down the slope more and more, the last laugh will be by the British on people that think as you have stated 🙂

  9. What happens Brian over the next few years within Europe and the EU, NHS, Banking?…. thats right Brian, nobody knows that either! Not even you or me but then I don’t claim anyone does!

    I guess you don’t understand that it really doesn’t matter too much what Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo thinks as it is not up to him or even the Spanish government as the current regulation is within the EU. Forgive me when I say “the PP are shit stirrers” they use whatever they can to distract from the main issue and this has been a continual practice of Rajoy and his government since he came into power… just in case you didn’t notice…

    The UK will talk with the EU and things will progress from there, anyone who comments on what that progress would be has no idea either, nor would I doubt that any negotiating committee have even reached a stage within the UK negotiating team as to what position should be asked for to cover health care and of course the UK hasn’t even started negotiating Brexit with the EU yet then I guess… why are you are still asking such questions you know there is no answer to? It has nothing to do with what Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo says, it is not up to him and won’t be either… just like the French politicians that spoke out on Calais, the issue they comment on has nothing to do with them so stop letting what you hear from these people infect your brain as they are nothing more than foolish politicians and media instigating and threatening to get foolish people to listen to them 🙂

  10. Mike, I am under no illusions about Margallo – or any other Spanish politicians for that matter. I see and hear the same things you do. I simply said you were right (regarding the healthcare situation.) Then I went on to say no one knows what will happen after Brexit. That is something you have also said, so we are in complete agreement on both points!

    Why are you still carping at me then, using phrases like “just in case you didn’t notice” and politicians getting “foolish people to listen to them” as if we’re disagreeing with each other when we’re not? I notice every bit as much as you do Mike, and I am certainly not foolish.

    Where we may disagree though is this. I venture to suggest, given the terrible state that Spanish and even some British government ministers are in right now, I wouldn’t expect them to come up with anything much better in future negotiations. They may even possibly just come up with something worse. I fully realise this is unaccustomed speculation on my part, but many people would accept it’s at least a possibility, and perhaps even quite likely, given the obvious amount of angry rhetoric and opposition going on right now between Spain and Britain. If Spain’s FM deliberately excludes Britain’s FM, Boris, from his letter to all other EU FMs what chance have we got of them seeing eye to eye? Very little it would seem.

  11. No carping at you Brian, it is you and others that keep stating the obvious as if it is some kind of “unbelievable situation” when it is not, it is the situation as it would be expected!

    Your last paragraph states the problem Brian, you don’t know what goes on in the negotiations and you know nothing of the negotiation situation and you take what these people say then ponder on it in fear, you listen to the media reporting on what these politicians that have nothing to do with the negotiations and then go milk it, the angry rhetoric you speak of is helped along by people just like you! You need to understand that these politicians that come out with this stuff are just people the press listens to but their say doesn’t mean a lot, if it comes from Brussels then I might understand it but from Garcia-Margallo! To be honest these politicians should be people that know better than to come out with this but then again if people don’t know any better than to listen to them!
    You then comment on Boris’s letter, really Brian, and you wonder why you you think I am “carping on” as you say, oh dear!

  12. Don’t forget Mike, ALL the existing agreements automatically become null and void on Brexit day. Fact. Every single piece of legislation governing Britain’s trade and reciprocal agreements with each of the remaining 27 EU countries, like healthcare for expats or inter-banking rules, taxation and even mobile phone tariffs, ceases and has to be renegotiated and replaced. Otherwise there would be a total vacuum – no rules, guidelines or laws for anyone to follow. Replacement legislation is essential.

    That is why Theresa May has announced her “Great Repeal” bill will be put before the Westminster parliament abolishing the 1972 European Communities Act. She absolutely has to do that. It is the most basic requirement for Brexit. Her intention is to replace it with a new Act which she hopes will allow the existing rules and laws to continue on some kind of ad-hoc temporary basis while negotiations over their replacements continue. However, that requires the goodwill and co-operation of all 27 EU countries to draft the new rules in a way that is favourable for Britain. Is that likely to be easy? Hardly.

    Literally hundreds of thousands, if not millions of new, very wordy, legal documents will need to be agreed with the mutual consent of 28 countries. This will not be quick. The Foreign Office doesn’t even have sufficient numbers of trained staff and experts in International Law in place to deal with the sheer volume of work. They will have to be recruited and trained. Complacency is not an option.

  13. I think you need to go away for a couple of years Brian and come back then! No point in speculating, it just add to all the other crap that others come out with! No one Brian, not Garcia-Margallo, Merkel, May, not even you know exactly what will happen on any agreements… why? Because even the EU and those who will be doing the negotiating don’t know, so best to sit back and wait to see what actually is negotiated… speculation is the cheapest form of media!

    At no time has anyone said things will be easy nor have they said it wouldn’t be complicated, removing cancer is a complicated and delicate process and those pesky cells will do their damnedest to fight every attempt at removing them but then everyone knows that, no one said it wasn’t going to be easy or simple and we do not need to be told repeatedly at every single opportunity by people as if it is something that you have just discovered!

    Just think what the other option is, remain in an EU that is rapidly becoming a dictatorship “if not one already”, run by…. well actually, I don’t think they know who runs it so lets say run by whoever feels they are the most powerful at the time. They are some of the most indecisive, lost, wasteful, uneconomic, delusive, bullying, corrupt, dangerous, stupid people ever to set their feet on this planet… and people “including you” think that is where we should have stayed, getting out of the previous is worth all that it takes to get out! 🙂

  14. Btw Mike, you ARE  carping on at me – and others – using unnecessarily aggressive and even insulting language. It’s obvious, particularly further up this thread. However, I am taking great care to state my case without resorting to such language in my replies. We’re both too smart to allow pettiness to dictate our actions, so let’s agree to continue any further debate using self-restraint over the words we use. Nobody should feel the need to accuse anyone of being foolish for example just because they disagree with each other. I repeat – we’re both too smart for that.

    For a long time I deliberately avoided replying to you because I was well aware of your annoyance with me and I actually did not want to annoy you any further. Now however, I see no reason why we can not continue to debate as long as we use moderate language and show some courtesy to each other. Deal?

  15. Nothing wrong with keeping people informed and keeping oneself informed while the negotiations continue. After all, that’s what this newspaper is for. I won’t be going away for 2 years Mike. I’ll be right where I always am, watching and listening – and commenting – just like you!

  16. Fascinating reading. Followed the link to the source and saw that in 2015 the UK paid Spain 223 million for healthcare of it´s citizens and Spain paid the UK only 3.4 million. The is a ratio of 65:1

    But the ratio of UK citizens in Spain versus Spanish citizens in the UK is probably under 5:1.

    Someone suggested that this is Spanish over-billing but my suspicion would be NHS under-billing (i.e. not asking the right questions). Any ideas?

  17. Brian, don’t call the kettle black, you make your bed….

    Not sure where you come from on the “unnecessarily aggressive and even insulting language”! I can only think that someone who would state that on anything I have said needs to get out a bit! No offence or insult meant “as I try to avoid that book thrown at me again” but it does say what I mean and it says it in a few words, how you take that or understand it of course is up to you.

    I have no problem against anyone, no one and that even includes you. In discussion people need to understand personalities of others and not take offence at petty disagreements on what is said, could you imagine what it would be like in westminster if those politicians taking part in a TV debate took offence as you do, they would refuse to work together!

    I am not here to offend, nor do I think I do, so you can tear that card up along with the others you throw out. I am as I am, if you don’t like me that is fine, but I will say what I think along with what I feel and I will say it in my way. If you feel offended then I am sorry about that and if that is the case then I can only say you really need to understand people a little bit more. 🙂

  18. Fair enough Mike, I extended my hand in the hope of a handshake and you refused to shake hands. So be it. Others will judge.

    I think I should point out to the readers that some of your remarks elsewhere to people like the lady with the degree in politics, are quite simply disgraceful. Calling a woman who has achieved a degree in politics “stupid” because you disagree with her, is not something to be proud of and shows a severe lack of respect. Using more respectful language would do you more credit and perhaps even be more persuasive. No one was ever persuaded to agree with someone else by being called stupid! Sadly though, yah-boo politics seems to be the new normal everywhere. Maybe it always was, but it’s definitely getting worse.

    With regard to you earlier comment wanting me to wait for two years – presumably meaning I should keep quiet while you continue with your remarks – bear in mind that things will continue to develop over that period. I will continue to make comments,  just like you, but I intend to be more respectful.

    The ball is on your side of the court now. Let’s see what you do with it.

  19. Have a look at this little bit of fun and have a laugh no matter what side of the Brexit debate you support. It’s the ladies of “Fascinating Aida” at this year’s Edinburgh Festival. They’re singing “So Sorry Scotland.” Be aware there are some rude words though – used in a humorous manner. Don’t watch if you find such words offensive. Personally I think it’s very funny.

    As they say, “United we stand, divided we fall.”

  20. In the words of the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band, “Let’s all make up and be friendly”. We don’t just encourage different opinions, we love them but we aren’t too sure about personal disagreements!

    In fact we are sure, we would prefer that duels take place at dawn, with seconds in misty fields by a lake and debates take place on our web site.

    Thank you all 🙂


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