It should particularly reassure then tens of thousands of British pensioners who retired to Spain and who rely on access to local hospitals and doctors.
Campaigners who have been fighting to protect the rights of European citizens post-Brexit described the new law as “positive”.
“EuroCitizens welcomes the publication of the Royal Decree today by the Spanish Government, which will clarify the situation of the 314,000 Britons in a no-deal scenario,” the organization’s chair, Michael Harris told The Local.
“We will analyse the text in depth to see the implications for different groups of UK residents. Next week, we are having a meeting with civil servants from various Spanish ministries and we will follow up on any queries that might arise.”
Meanwhile, Sue Wilson, chair of Bremain in Spain, said a lot of their members would be sleeping better as a result of the Royal Decree.
“This news will provide great relief for those that have been living in limbo for so long. A no-deal Brexit is the worst case scenario, and the outcome that Brits in Spain fear the most,” she said.
“To know that the Spanish government has our backs and has plans in place to protect us in every eventuality, will allow many to sleep better tonight.
“Whilst I still believe that a no-deal Brexit can’t happen, we’re grateful that every contingency has been covered. We only wish our British government were as keen to protect our rights and freedoms as the Spanish government obviously are,” she said.
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A couple of years ago, Michael Soffe seemed to have a charmed life. A gourmet tour guide and wedding planner, he’d made a home and built a business in sun-soaked Málaga, the increasingly hip city at the heart of Spain’s southern coast.
Now he fears that everything he’s worked for is hanging in the balance as heedless politicians push Brexit negotiations to the brink. His biggest worry is that his partner, a two-time cancer survivor still in treatment, could lose his right to public healthcare.
“We are petrified that will be taken away,” Soffe said. “There is not a single insurance company that will touch him.”
There is also his pension. Having spent more than 30 years living in Spain, the savings that he was relying on to retire in a few years’ time would be much reduced if EU agreements to share welfare credits earned in different countries were abandoned, he said.
Pension and healthcare worries loom large among British immigrants in Spain, particularly those clustered on the coast. The cliche of Costa del Sol life is played out in many small settlements where older Britons enjoy a sun-filled version of retirement in seaside towns, with breakfast menus featuring fry-ups instead of tortillas, and no Spanish required.
But they are actually a minority of nearly 300,000 UK citizens formally registered to live in Spain. Two-thirds of that group are working, said John Moffett, vice-chair of the campaign group Bremain in Spain, which is pushing to protect their rights.
Read full story in The Guardian