What will Brits in Spain need to get ‘settled status’?

What will Brits in Spain need to get ‘settled status’?

Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain provides some reassurance for British people resident in Spain.
With the British government pushing its controversial Immigration Bill through parliament last week, the focus was on the rights of EU citizens. In particular, the ruling that requires immigrants to pay into the NHS, regardless of their existing tax contributions, seems especially unfair. The government’s dramatic U-turn to remove the fee for healthcare workers was welcome, but the issue of double taxation for other EU citizens remains.

On this side of the Channel, Brits in Europe are mourning the loss of their freedom of movement rights, which enabled us to make new lives for ourselves in EU countries. Those opportunities, that we took full advantage of, are sadly being taken away from future generations. Those of us already residing here must focus on protecting the lives we’ve built.

Regarding our status in Europe, Michael Gove recently wrote to Michel Barnier. In his letter, Gove criticised the EU for being too slow to implement systems to secure future residency rights for British citizens. Gove cited the UK’s ‘settled status’ scheme for EU citizens in the UK and expressed concerns that the EU would not meet its Withdrawal Agreement obligations in a timely fashion.

For those of us living in Spain, what will be required by the Spanish authorities in order for our status to be ‘settled’?

UK Ambassador Hugh Elliott and Sue Wilson

Here’s what we know so far. Spain’s existing identity card for foreigners, known as the ‘tarjeta de identidad de extranjero’ (TIE) will replace the current documentation for British residents.  

The TIE proves legal status and is issued to foreigners authorised to stay in Spain for longer than six months. Those Brits registering for the first time will be issued with a TIE; those holding existing residency documents will be able to swap these for the TIE.

To read the article in full head over to The Local. 

Coronavirus is the perfect scapegoat, even for Brexit

Coronavirus is the perfect scapegoat, even for Brexit

Sue Wilson analyses the latest round of post-Brexit trade negotiations and the obvious need for an extension to the transition period.

A further round of trade negotiations between the UK and EU ended on Friday, without any noticeable progress.

The talks were described as “tetchy” and “disruptive” and Michel Barnier, the European Commission’s chief negotiator, said the UK was still wanting the “best of both worlds”.

Midweek, an unnamed EU source again raised the possibility of an extension to the transition period.

The source claimed that the UK could still secure an extension, even if it didn’t ask for one. All that’s required is for both sides to agree to extend, rather than requiring a formal request from the UK. Unsurprisingly, the UK government is sticking to its position that the transition will end on 31 December, with or without a trade deal.

Although the talks have largely been over key issues, such as fishing policy or maintaining a level playing field on standards, the rights of citizens were also discussed.

Against the background of legal action by the EU against the UK government over EU citizens’ rights, the minister for the cabinet office, Michael Gove, hit back on Thursday. In a letter to European Commission vice president, Maros Sefcovic, Gove said there was a “serious risk” that the EU would be in breach of its obligations under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement (WA).

You can read the article in full at The Local.

UK needed an exit strategy, they got another slogan!

UK needed an exit strategy, they got another slogan!

Sue Wilson compares the mixed messages from Downing Street with the clear road map issued by the Spanish government.

This week, Spain takes another tentative step towards lifting its lockdown restrictions. Many regions are entering the new “Phase 1”, with further freedoms granted to the 51 percent of residents affected.

The relaxing of lockdown here echoes the efforts of other countries across Europe. Governments are considering what steps to take, and when. 

They are coming under increased pressure from opposition parties, business, media and public to juggle the demands of economic wealth versus public health. In some cases, not least in Britain, protecting livelihoods seems more of a priority than protecting lives.

Much as we might want a return to “business as usual”, it’s hard to see how that could happen anytime soon. We must adjust to new ways of doing everything, while remaining conscious of the health threat. As Boris Johnson might say, we must “stay alert” to the dangers.

While the message from the Spanish government about the lifting of restrictions was clear, the message from the UK government was not. For several days before Johnson’s Sunday evening announcement, the British media was full of the ‘news’ that lockdown measures were about to ease.

Mixed messaging from the British government during the coronavirus crisis is nothing new. Last weekend was no different and required minister after minister to downplay media speculation.  It seems talk of additional freedoms had been somewhat exaggerated.

Word had spread that the government was dropping its “stay at home” message, to be replaced with the new slogan, “stay alert” – whatever that’s supposed to mean. A damage limitation exercise was then required to persuade the British public to stay home during the bank holiday weekend.

You can read the article in full in The Local. 

Mixed emotions on stepping out …..

Mixed emotions on stepping out …..

As I stepped outside my front door on Saturday, after weeks of lockdown, it was with mixed emotions. Like millions of people across Spain, I was eagerly anticipating my first walk, having been no further than the rubbish bins for seven weeks. Sharing the experience with my husband was a bonus.

On a beautiful spring morning, in our beautiful village, the feeling of freedom was one I had expected. The feeling of nervousness was one I had not.

Lockdown has caused many of us to consider what we’ve most been looking forward to once restrictions are lifted. The simple pleasures in life – such as taking a stroll with my other half – rank high on my list. It never occurred to me that going for a walk might make me concerned for our safety.


The ways in which we’ve come to terms with lockdown – both the implementation and de-escalation – vary a lot according to our age, personal circumstance and even personality.

Those living in flats will have experienced a very different lockdown to those with gardens. The experience of city dwellers will not reflect that of those living in the countryside. Families will have reacted differently to those isolated and alone.

You can read the article in full at The Local.

Now is not the time to go it alone

Now is not the time to go it alone

On Friday April 24th, Michel Barnier held a press conference in Brussels to report on trade negotiations between the UK and EU. The virtual talks took place last week, with two further rounds of negotiations scheduled for the weeks beginning May 11th and June 1st.

Media descriptions of the EU’s reaction varied from “disappointing” to “Barnier launches a blistering attack”, with many commenting that Barnier had accused the UK of “failing to engage”.

Based on earlier Brexit negotiations, it was no surprise that the UK and EU had different approaches. The EU produced a 350-page text, which Barnier proudly presented at the press conference. The EU text covers every topic and is available online for everybody. The UK, in contrast, produced a document covering just seven areas and insisted that the content remained confidential.

Barnier stated that “our objective for tangible progress has only been partially, very partially, met this week.”

He emphasised the need to progress on all fronts and spoke of the tight timescale, which means agreements on some areas must be reached by the end of June.

Boris Johnson readily agreed to this timescale when earlier negotiations were finalised. In fact, Barnier accused Johnson of rowing back on commitments made in the Political Declaration, which was signed in conjunction the Withdrawal Agreement in winter 2019.

In a statement released later, a UK government spokesman said: “This was a full and constructive negotiating round” but tentatively agreed that progress between the two sides being “limited”.

You can read the article in full at The Local.


Brexit Negotiations
Coronavirus and Brexit – time to delay?

Coronavirus and Brexit – time to delay?

Sue Wilson of Bremain in Spain calls for the UK to extend the Brexit transition period so it can focus resources on beating the coronavirus.
‘Brexit has, quite rightly, not topped anyone’s priority list recently, either in the UK or EU. Most resources are being directed at fighting the coronavirus outbreak, leaving little room for progressing the Brexit trade negotiations.

The British government has redirected resources, including 25,000 civil service staff who were exclusively working on Brexit before the virus outbreak. Seemingly, only the UK negotiating team, led by David Frost, has kept its eye firmly on the Brexit ball.

An extension to the transition period was always preferred by those people (mostly Remainers) who were worried about the lack of time for negotiations – especially as international trade deals generally take years to complete, even in normal circumstances. The present circumstances are far from normal.

With the trade talks delayed, and the tight time frame shortened further, even Brexiteers are calling for a delay.

Furthermore, businesses are now begging for a delay, and much of the British public – including 36 percentage of leave voters – is also in favour. An extension to the transition period is now seemingly the “will of the people”.’


‘While the prevention of a hard Brexit is still my goal, this isn’t about frustrating Brexit. It is about dedicating every penny, minute and ounce of effort to saving the country from a deadlier crisis.’

You can read the full article in The Local.