Its government wants the transition to continue from ‘Brexit day’ in March 2019 until a new deal is in force, but with a deadline of three years for this to take place.
An in-house report drawn up by the Spanish government shows the results of analyses on bilateral effects of Brexit in terms of employment, trade, healthcare, tourism, justice and education, and cites the migration figures as 200,000 Spaniards living in the UK and 300,000 British nationals living in Spain.
The results will be discussed at the next Council of Europe meeting on December 14 and 15.
Foreign affairs minister Alfonso Dastis says he ‘welcomes’ recent developments on Brexit in which UK prime minister Theresa May has agreed to ‘retain citizens’ rights’, settled on a sum payable to the EU in respect of Britain’s liabilities, and a ‘soft border’ between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
But Dastis says Spain still has a series of objectives it needs to negotiate with the UK, which includes a request for all current agreements to remain in place until at least the end of the year 2020 so as not to affect Spaniards living in Britain or Brits living in Spain.
“Citizens’ rights and interests have been, are and will continue to be the main priority for the Spanish government in the Brexit negotiations,” Dastis says.
“We will ensure that any deal will guarantee certainty and legal security for businesses and people.”
The report will be distributed across Spain’s regional governments and other institutions that could be affected ahead of the Council of Europe meeting.
Concerning employment, Dastis says it wants to see an agreement that retains ‘in full’ the possibility of free movement of people, including streamlined regulations covering different countries’ Social Security systems – for example, ensuring that Brits in Spain and Spaniards in Britain will be entitled to claim on all their pension entitlements from every EU country they have worked in.
Dastis says Spain wants both sets of migrants to be able to ‘enjoy the same free movement rights that they do at present’ whilst Britain is still in the Union, including allowing Spaniards to carry on moving to the UK to work and Brits to carry on moving to Spain to work or retire.
Spain’s ministries of economy, taxation and industry also want to retain current trade agreements until a new one is in place that is ‘at least as profound’ as the CETA, or EU trade deal with Canada.
Spanish president Mariano Rajoy again stressed that the UK is ‘very important to Spain’, as he said following his meeting in Downing Street with Mrs May, and cited various figures including how Britain is the number one country Spain invests in and the second-largest investor in Spain.
“Spain would be interested in negotiating with the UK, in phase two of the talks, on an agreement which does not replace European products with those from third countries where Britain may have more advantageous trading conditions,” Rajoy says – although such an agreement is unlikely to please Brexiteers and could be rejected out of hand by the UK.
Rajoy recalled that 18 million Brits visit Spain every year – the equivalent of 40% of Spain’s population – and that ‘about half a million’ Brits live there, although current figures have placed the number of UK migrants in Spain at around 300,000.
“This means we’ve had a very intense relationship for a long time, and it’s crucial we keep it,” Rajoy says.
His government wants to ensure that British tourists do not need a visa to enter Spain, are still entitled to emergency healthcare via their EHICs, and that Britons living in the country will still have their healthcare cover and pensions guaranteed – but the health ministry says this ‘must be reciprocal’ with the UK for it to be agreed.
The Spanish government wants all EU laws and the European Court of Justice (ECJ) to continue to apply to both sets of expats during the transitional period, and rejects ‘the British intention of resolving mercantile disputes through international arbitration’.
Certainty and legal security must be guaranteed for people and businesses in future bilateral relations, which Rajoy says are currently ‘excellent’ and ‘need to remain so’, independently of the ‘need to guarantee the integrity of the single market’.
The ministry of the interior says it wants the transitional phase to be split into two in order to separate the two countries ‘gradually’; in the first stage, Brits would hold the same rights they do now as EU citizens, and in the second, the ministry would ‘work out what type of documentation to issue’ for British residents and ‘how to regulate their entry, refusal of entry or deportation’.
Spain also wants to ensure its boats can still fish in British waters, to retain current conditions for Spaniards working as teachers in the UK, and for university fees for Spaniards in Britain not to go up, with recognition of qualifications not to change during the transitional period.