Spain has confirmed that it will be granting British people the right to permanently live in the country even if the United Kingdom crashed out the European Union without a deal.
According to Reuters, a Spanish draft decree published that was published last Friday gives UK passport holders the right to stay in the country under a no-deal scenario. However, they must hold a certificate of residency or are seeking to obtain one.
British nationals would be given until the end of next year to apply for an identity card that will give them a permanent right to stay in Spain. The process will be “nearly automatic” for those that already have permanent residency.
The estimated 400,000 Brits who are living in Spain will be relieved at the news, with considerable uncertainty for the past two years as the departure of the United Kingdom from the European Union edges closer.
Spain is considered to have one of the largest British-born populations anywhere in the world. Over 300,000 British citizens are registered in the country, and many more are still unregistered.
However, Spain says that the measures would only be offered if the United Kingdom gave the same rights to Spanish nationals who are currently in the United Kingdom.
Reuters reported that Josep Borrell, the Foreign Minister of Spain, stated: “Our main objective is that no British or Spanish citizen is left unprotected, neither they nor their relatives,” said
However, Spanish migration statistics suggest that some British residents have already packed their bags since the Brexit vote.
El Pais, the Spanish newspaper, reported that a drop-off in numbers of registered Brits in the country has been particularly high in Valencia, a longstanding popular location for British migrants, over the last five years.
According to an academic at Birmingham University who has researched British migration to Spain, Katy Hall, many Brits may be “grappling with their identity” as they determine whether to stay and apply for citizenship or residency.
She stated: “Brexit has fragmented a previously strong and cohesive British community in Spain,” she wrote last year. “The majority of older British people in Spain retain a close allegiance with their British identity and are left reeling from the results of a vote that many of them had no say in.”