June 10, PRAGUE—Recently, the United Kingdom has voted under Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty to remove themselves from the European Union, this transition has been called ‘Brexit’. With the impending divorce of the UK from the EU, retired or working British Expats in Spain will now have to readjust. They are no longer citizens of the European Union (EU) but foreigners, as soon as Article 50 of Brexit comes to pass which should go into effect this year, if everything goes to plan. They are going to have to apply for residency, or return to the UK where living is higher. This will impact retired British expats already living quite well on a fixed British monthly pension in Spain.
Mariano Rajoy, the Prime Minister of Spain and the People’s Party leader, has pleaded for the UK and EU to stay together in multiple press conferences. ‘Without wanting to go into other considerations, I will only tell you that one in five tourists who come to Spain are British and close to 17 million Britons visited Spain last year,” according to an article from the Daily Mail in which Rajoy was asked to comment on the number of British citizens who visit Spain without a Visa each year.
“It’s already affected British expats because many of the retired British expats getting a retirement income from Britain in British pounds are here, yet in Spain, they have to exchange for euros. So it’s going to affect them in a very negative way,” said Dennis Braun, an American luthier living in Spain. Dennis Braun said Brexit will affect his purchasing of future violins because of additional taxes and customs which will take place if the UK is not a partner. This will lead to the cost of violins being too high for him to pay, instead, he will be taking his business to countries with lower rates within the European Union.
Spain trades freely with Britain, with vegetables and food which the British rely on but now there may be additional costs. This may only affect the British in a negative way since the Spanish farmers are actually hoping that they will receive more money through this trade. Unfortunately for the UK, many of their businesses want to transfer to Europe to avoid trade problems, such as the example with Lloyds of London who have moved their corporate headquarters to Berlin in order to escape hidden trade fees that may come up with the Brexit transition.
Spanish citizens living in the UK will have to undergo the same process, in the UK. Regardless of the additional paperwork and cost associated, there are Spanish citizens who got married and have lived in the UK for longer than 40 years who will have to decide on taking on the burden of getting a UK citizenship, or returning to Spain (and leaving businesses to which they dedicated their whole lives).
The most controversial of all topics seems to be the small UK governed region of Gibraltar, which has always been on the agenda for Spain to reclaim from the UK. Citizens of Gibraltar want to remain British citizens but are unable to do so until the government of Spain and the UK come to an agreement on who governs it after Brexit. Rajoy has added that he would like Gibraltar to be governed by both the UK and Spain.
It seems that politicians in Britain who supported the Brexit divorce left out some of the additional consequences. Tony Blair, the previous Prime Minister of Britain, voted on staying in the EU and is trying to gain support against Theresa May’s new snap elections being held in the EU soon. Since the Snap elections have been announced, the British pound has gone up in value from where it was. Theresa May is hoping to gather support for continuing to exit from the EU as she goes up against the more liberal opponents supporting Tony Blair.
The new snap elections bring hope that Britain may decide to stay with the EU and avoid future consequences associated with the ‘divorce’. “Liberalism is always better when there’s lots of money, people become much more conservative when they have no money, which is where Spain is headed,” said Dennis Braun.
Written by Brittney Pilarcik.