Brits In Spain 'Confused and Alarmed' About Future Post-Brexit Study Reveals
March 06, 2020
A new study has revealed that Brits living in Spain are still feeling confused and alarmed about what the future holds post-Brexit.
This is partly due to having received inadequate information and support from both the Spanish and UK governments.
Since the 1990’s, Karen O’Reilly a sociology professor at Loughborough University has been researching the British community living in Spain, as part of the BrExpats programme at Goldsmiths University, London.
This research led her to carry out more than 100 interviews (over an 18 month period) to establish the practical and emotional impact Brexit was having on them.
The conclusion was quite simple, the majority of British nationals living in Spain are still confused!
The following highlights the key findings of the study...
Britons in Spain are confused and fearful about their post-Brexit future
- The Brexit Withdrawal Agreement ensures that UK citizens who are ‘legally resident’ in the EU27 will be able to stay living in Spain and it also outlines the terms that will guide this. Many of those who took part in the study are trying to get residency, as advised, but it is not as straightforward as it seems.
- Even now at the start of 2020, many are still confused about regulations. Complex family issues and living arrangements that are difficult to resolve is seeing them receive misleading advice, making them unsure of where to go for the correct guidance.
- The Withdrawal Agreement has also left several unresolved important issues. In particular the unanswered question of freedom of movement within the European Union.
- Many of the British people living in the EU27 were unable to vote in the EU referendum because of the 15-year rule. This means that under current legislation, British migrants living outside of the UK for 15 years or more automatically lose their right to vote in any national elections and referendums in the UK.
UK nationals in Spain are still treated as “tourists”
- Many British nationals are lacking in the support they need. This is because they are still treated as “long-term tourists” by both the Spanish and UK governments along with the UK and Spanish media.
- In the early days, the large movements of British nationals to Spain was primarily due to “mass tourism” and “residential tourism” aiming to promote the country to retirees and business owners. Today, there are British citizens of all ages and backgrounds living and working in every part of Spain including young people, who are fluent in Spanish, working in cities and bringing up children. Every kind of diversity that exists within the UK now also applies to the British in Spain.
- The misunderstanding of their lives means that the needs of British nationals living in Spain are continually overlooked, dismissed or denied.
A lack of transparency from the Spanish authorities
- Many of the British people living in Spain are not registered as Spanish residents. This is partly because Spanish authorities have interpreted free movement policies in different ways in different areas.
- In addition to this, British relocation to Spain has always included temporary, part-time and seasonal visitors to whom the regulation laws are unclear.
- The complications in people's lives mean that the simple rules and regulations that are based on legal rights and/or duties are rarely sufficient in practice.
Identity and agency
- UK nationals living in Spain have started to think of themselves as Europeans and have been questioning their relationship to both Spain and the UK.
- Brits in Spain have been feeling ignored by the UK Government and to a lesser extent the EU and the Spanish Government.
- Those that took part in the study expressed strong feelings about how Brexit is disrupting their lives. They said this is to some extent due to the fact that freedom of movement is widely understood, not just as the right to move but also as an identity.
- A noticeable impact of Brexit has been the arrival of support groups, campaigns and organised events about Brexit and its potential impact on the British people living and working in Spain.
The BrexPats project leader, Michaela Benson also compiled a similar study on British residents living in France. She said the two reports had “laid bare the alarming extent of British citizens’ uncertainty and confusion in both countries.”
“Their needs have not been a central part of the negotiations, and since neither the British nor the French or Spanish governments know much about them, communication about how Brexit will intervene in their lives has been poor. People are still seriously worried about what the future holds.”
You can read the full study report from Professor Karen O’Reilly at the following link