The Council of Ministers approved, on Friday 1 March 2019, the Royal Decree-Law adopting contingency measures in the event of the potential withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the European Union without the agreement provided for in Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union. This law would only come into force in the event of a withdrawal without an agreement (Brexit without an agreement).
Rigths of British citizens after the Brexit
The aim of the measures is to guarantee the rights of Spanish citizens and of the 300,000 British citizens resident in Spain, their legal certainty and their protection on matters of social security and healthcare.
The Minister for Foreign Affairs, European Union and Cooperation, Josep Borrell, recalled that the British Parliament will vote in the coming days on whether to accept the Withdrawal Treaty, whether it leaves the EU without an agreement and whether it applies for an extension to allow time to reach a decision.
Josep Borrell specified that in the event that the United Kingdom decides to leave without an agreement (Hard Brexit), Spain will apply the legislation approved on 1st March 2019 . The Royal Decree-Law, he said, will mobilise human, regulatory and material resources. It provides for actions of a logistical nature, such as new hirings, in order to preserve the interests of Spanish and British citizens that “exercise their right to free movement before the withdrawal date” and “preserve the normal development of trade flows and Spain’s economic interests”.
Conditional on the United Kingdom guaranteeing the reciprocal treatment of Spaniards
These measures stressed the minister, “are of a unilateral nature”, although they are conditional on the United Kingdom guaranteeing the reciprocal treatment of Spaniards resident in their country and in Gibraltar.
From among these initiatives, Josep Borrell particularly highlighted those that affect Spanish interests in Campo de Gibraltar and the 9,000 cross-border workers that cross over into Gibraltar every day.
The minister also stated that the legislation regulates the exercise of professional activities and access to public employment. As regards healthcare, Josep Borrell disclosed that the conditions are “extremely generous so that there is no breakdown of the current situation”.
Furthermore, access to Spanish universities for students from the education systems in the United Kingdom and Gibraltar are regulated, together with economic activities, financial services, land transport and customs, among others.
Source: Government of Spain