MINISTER at the Department for Exiting the EU, Robin Walker, was in Madrid yesterday (Thursday) to meet with Spanish government ministers and members of the business community.
He also took part in a roundtable discussion on citizens’ rights with spokespeople from groups representing UK nationals in Spain.
Members of Brexpats in Spain, Bremain in Spain, EuroCitizens and ECREU were welcomed to the British Embassy by Deputy Head of Mission Tim Hemmings, where, as well as meeting with the minister, they spent time with different members of the Embassy and consular teams, discussing issues including health and social care, outreach and communications.
The aim of the day was to provide the representatives of the citizens’ groups with a greater insight into the work the Embassy network does on behalf of UK nationals, provide an update on the progress of the Brexit negotiations and respond to any questions and concerns.
Minister Walker said: “I was pleased to have the chance to meet with representatives of the British expat community and update them about what the government is doing to safeguard their rights post-Brexit.
I also valued the opportunity to hear their concerns about residency, pensions, onward movement and voting rights, and the uncertainty that many of them still feel about what Brexit means for them and their families.
Securing the rights of citizens has always been our top priority. The draft Withdrawal Agreement will secure the rights of UK nationals living in Spain, and Spanish citizens and their family members living in the UK.
But, in the unlikely event we leave without a deal, the Prime Minister has confirmed that all EU citizens resident in the UK before 29 March 2019 will be able to stay. And I want British expats in Spain to know that, during my meetings, I have underlined how valued and significant it would be if the Spanish Government now offered them the same reassurance.”
HMA Simon Manley said: “There are 180,000 Spanish people living in the UK, and some 300,000 British people have chosen to make Spain their home.
The strong people-to-people links are at the heart of our bilateral relationship with Spain. That is why I am pleased that Robin Walker was able to meet with representatives of UK nationals’ citizens’ rights groups in Spain, as well as the Spanish Government.
Meanwhile, as the negotiations continue, both the Embassy and consulates will continue with the outreach events that we have planned through Spain, with some 20 events planned between now and the end of the year.
In the meantime, I continue to urge all UK nationals living in Spain to ensure you are correctly registered and stay up to date with the latest news, by signing up for email alerts and visiting the Living in Spain guide on www.gov.uk/guidance/living-in-spain, and following our Brits in Spain social media channels, including on Facebook.”