Spain to guarantee healthcare and pensions for British expats after Brexit

Pedro Gonçalves
Spain to guarantee healthcare and pensions for British expats after Brexit

Spain is set to issue a decree that will guarantee continued healthcare access to British expats and tourists in the country until the end of 2020 as the Madrid tries to limit the impact of a no-deal Brexit.

British residents would also continue to have access to the social security system, which gives rights to unemployment benefits and pensions. The Socialist government will also guarantee freedom of movement for workers between Gibraltar and Spain. The country is home to over 400,000 British expats and popular tourist destination with Britons.

Last year 18 million British tourists visited Spain while on their travels across the Continent.

Madrid is also planning to offer new residency papers to around 300,000 UK nationals if their country crashes out of the European Union without an agreement on the future relationship.

The decree extends all benefits to Gibraltar, although it underscores that Spain will have veto rights over the situation of the British Overseas Territory in any future agreement between London and Brussels.

The contingency plan underscores that concessions will depend on securing similar treatment for Spaniards living and working in the UK.

However,  the European Commission has ruled out an EU-wide agreement with the UK to ensure that the rights of expatriates are protected across Europe in a no-deal Brexit.

The proposal, for a UK-EU commitment to preserve citizens' rights, was passed without opposition in the House of Commons . But a commission spokeswoman said in response that the EU was not willing to conclude "mini-deals" with the UK outside the main withdrawal agreement.

The decree will be announced after Friday's weekly cabinet meeting, the last for Pedro Sánchez's government before parliament is dissolved on Tuesday in anticipation of elections to be held on April 28.