MADRID and London have opened negotiations to form a bilateral agreement to preserve voting rights for the 280,000 British nationals living in Spain.
Voting rights will also be safeguarded for more than 115,000 Spaniards living in Britain, according to diplomatic sources.
When Brexit is triggered on March 30, 2019, Britain will leave the European Union and British migrants in Spain will automatically lose their right to participate in municipal elections.
UK nationals will no longer be considered EU citizens after Brexit is made official and Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit deal would do little to guarantee British expats voting rights in Spain.
Should Britain’s Parliament back Theresa May’s deal, UK citizens in Spain will maintain the majority of their rights until December 2020 while the transition is taking place.
However, voting rights will not be extended to British Expats in this time of transition for municipal and European elections of May 26, 2019.
The talks and proposed treaty to guarantee British and Spanish expats’ voting rights will require passage through both British and Spanish Parliaments before it can be declared as law.
Diplomatic sources have told the Spanish media this is unlikely to happen prior to the scheduled European election date of May 26 next year.
However, the Spanish Foreign Ministry is considering making the treaty provisionally official as soon as it is signed by both the British and Spanish governments.
The latest talks aim to ensure expatriate citizens are not only be able to vote in local elections, but also be elected into office.