Posted on 29 March 2017
At about the time we are uploading this article to the website, Sir Tim Barrow, the most senior British diplomat in the EU, will be delivering a letter to Donald Tusk, president of the European Council, telling him that Britain is leaving the European Union.
Or is it? Here are five reasons why we are not too worried.
- Spain needs the British and the British need Spain. With as many as half a million British people living in Spain, any deal will have to protect their rights, or the fall out could be disastrous, primarily for Spain. The EU needs to be keeping its remaining member states happy, not impoverishing them, so we can probably assume that EU negotiators will not be imposing draconian rules on the British who have enriched so many Spanish costas. Spain’s economy is, after all, only starting to recover from the years of austerity. It seems more likely that a special arrangement will be made for British people in Spain, and vice versa.
- Our special relationship. Although the EU has reiterated that it will negotiate as a bloc, different member states already have widely varying visa and visa-waiver systems. Although the Schengen Area of 26 EU states allowing visa-free travel between them does have common rules (see below) there are also wide variations between them. It seems likely, therefore, that Spain will allow for special or simpler arrangements for its good friends the British, coming to spend their hundreds of thousands of pounds there!
- Individual membership? One of the EU’s lead negotiators Guy Verhofstadt has suggested that British people who wish to remain as EU citizens could have that option. That might include a small payment – something between €100 and €200 per year was mentioned – to retain their right to live and work in the EU. Again, the EU wants cohesion (and money), and there were 16,141,241 people who voted to remain.
- Generous visa-free allowances. Let’s imagine that everything goes wrong with the negotiations. Boris Johnson makes an ill-timed joke about Italian tanks having 27 reverse gears, or something, and the Europeans come down hard, insisting that the British have no more right to live in Spain that do any other non-EU citizen, such as Americans or Australians. In that case, the normal Schengen Area rules still allow for 90 days in any 180 to be spent there. That means you could stay all winter and all summer and rent your home out the rest of the time.
- Easy visas. Even if the British have to get a visa for long-term stays, which is unlikely, there are many potential visa options currently in place for Americans and Australians. These include the non-lucrative or non-profit visa, for which Americans, for example, currently have to show an income of around €30,000 per year to show they are not taking a Spaniard’s job. For home owners that is likely to be far less, closer to the Spanish minimum wage of €750 per month. There are also golden visas, allowing homebuyers to live there indefinitely.
If you are still concerned about living in Spain after Brexit, download the Spain Property Guides explanation of potential post-Brexit scenarios.