Updated 12 April: The FCO has released the following open letter from HMA Simon Manley to British citizens living in Spain.

I’m sure you have been following recent developments in the Brexit negotiations very closely, so I wanted to give you a quick update about what all of this means for British people living here in Spain.

The European Council has agreed what is being called a “flexible extension” to the process of our departure from the European Union, until 31 October. Flexible, because if the Withdrawal Agreement is approved by both the UK and the European Parliaments before then, we will leave on the first day of the month after that approval.

So for example, if we pass a deal in the first three weeks of May, the UK will leave the European Union on the first of June. That would also mean we won’t take part in elections to the European Parliament. If, however, a deal is not passed by that point, European Parliamentary elections will take place in the UK. And if you are registered to vote in European elections here in Spain, then you should be able to do so.

I understand all of this is unsettling and frustrating for many of you. You want to know on what terms we are going to leave the European Union and what that may mean for you as a UK national living in Spain. During this extension period, the UK remains a full member of the EU and consequently your existing rights will not change. So, for example, your rights to healthcare, to residency and to travel throughout the EU, remain exactly as they are today.

Nonetheless, during this extension period, as we prepare to leave the European Union, it remains really important to ensure that you are correctly registered. I understand, however, that many of you are finding it difficult to get appointments. Let me assure you that we are talking with the Spanish authorities about this. Meanwhile, the Spanish Government has advised that if you can’t get an appointment now, you should make sure that you’ve got proof that you were living here before we leave the European Union, whether that be a padrón certificate or utility bills. The Spanish Government also advises on their Moncloa website on Brexit contingency measures, to keep checking for new appointments to become available. Should we leave the EU with a deal, as we very much hope, you will have until the end of the Implementation Period, currently set at 31 December 2020, to register, if you have not done so already. Should we, however, leave without a deal, as could still happen, the Spanish Government has said you will have a 21-month grace period from the date of our departure to register.

You can also prepare by signing up for email alerts for our Living in Spain guide on gov.uk or by joining our Brits in Spain Facebook community, where you can also find some videos on what you need to do to prepare for Brexit on issues such as registration, driving licences, healthcare and travel.

I wish you and your families a very happy Easter.

Updated 11 April: The UK was granted an extension to 31 October late last night at the EU Council summit. There will be a “good behaviour review” in June, which is when French President Emmanuel Macron wanted the extension actually to end. Instead, the UK has six months to avoid a Halloween No Deal. How this will go down in the Palace of Westminster is anyone’s guess, with frustration at the middling extension likely both from those who wanted a long one, and those who wanted a short.

Perhaps most relieved will be those who don’t want Brexit at all. Six and a half months is, conceivably, enough time for them to organize a straight second referendum, or a cobbled-together plan put to the people for a further confirmatory/People’s Vote, or a General Election … and doubtless in the mix somewhere will be talk of a Conservative leadership challenge or change. And of course, towards the end of the period come the UK’s party political conferences.

One thing outside the UK seems clear, and that is that Emmanuel Macron has not won too many friends tonight in European diplomatic and political circles. If his resistance to a long extension, which won through, does end up delivering no Brexit, however, they will undoubtedly be pleased with him again, and given the space now for “a rethink” such as Donald Tusk was advocating even though he argued for a longer space of time, some are seeing Brexit slip sliding away. That possibility will of course not be lost on the Brexiteers in Parliament, whose reaction can only be guessed at … ideally from a distance, within a concrete bunker …

Source : Janet Anscombe

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