20 October 2022: Brits’ remaining rights; Strange Spanish crooks; Confusing stores; & Other stuff.

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Awake! For, Morning, in the Bowl of Night, has flung the Stone that puts the Stars to Flight
And, Lo, has caught the Sultan’s Turret in a Noose of Light

Spanish life is not always likeable but it is compellingly loveable
Christopher Howse: ‘A Pilgrim in Spain’

Cosas de España/Galicia

This is a report on the successes and failures of organisations which strove to ensure the rights of resident Brits after Brexit. The preamble is a tad long, so Ive posted the meat of the article below.

Women – There’s none like an almost-nonagenarian nun.

Another interesting Spanish character – a real nonagenarian.

I wrote yesterday of bears and bores in northern Spain: The Guardian reports that: Black vultures, lynx and wild horses are among the animals being reintroduced to eastern Spain with the launch of a rewilding project spanning 850,000 hectares in the Iberian highlands east of Madrid. More on this here.

Homologación: A word that won’t trouble most folk. I’ve learned from this week’s Business Over Tapas that it’s still the nightmare I was told it was 20 years ago – essentially because the law isn’t complied with here. So: Professionals in psychology, medicine and dentistry have highlighted the repercussions on their lives of delays in the homologation of their degrees and the lack of response from the Ministry of Universities. As Lenox Napier writes: Getting one’s foreign qualifications recognised in Spain has always been both tricky and slow. Whatever Brussels says,

Talking of years ago . . . On my first visit to El Corte Inglés in Vigo, I was astonished that there were no indications of what was being sold on each floor, a ubiquitous feature of UK department stores. Thanks to Lenox, I now know this is deliberate . . .  The big [Spanish] stores are carefully designed so that you get lost inside them. It’s called ‘the Gruen effect’. The psychological effect is to encourage you one to buy stuff. IKEA also does it, says Lenox. Which is no great surprise.

Galician bars, I find, are rather over-fond of Bonnie Tyler and Adele. Or perhaps it’s only the ones I patronise. But at least it isn’t Jim Reed. Or bloody fado, the depressing Portuguese obsession.

The UK/Quote of the Day

The Liz Truss lettuce lives to wilt another day.

Ukraine v Russia 

One wonders what’s stopping Putin from obliterating the entire country and then demanding ‘peace’ negotiations. At the moment, his approach is merely piecemeal. But, as he can’t go backwards, further escalation at some pace or other is guaranteed. He must be afraid of something. But what? Adverse reaction in Russia?

Quote of the Century

Has there ever been a film where the music more perfectly suited the action than in Carol Reed’s “The Third Man”? The score was performed on a zither. The sound is jaunty but without joy, like whistling in the dark. It sets the tone; the action begins like an undergraduate lark and then reveals vicious undertones.  But, astonishingly, the producer, David O. Selznick, had instructed Reed: Drop the zither!. Happily, Reed ignored this.

En passant, it’s my favourite film. Along with the astonishing The Seven Samurai, I try to watch it once a year. I guess I really should swap my videos for DVDs . . .

Spanish

Un guarrito: A Spanish friend has sent me this word, used down in Andalucía for an electric drill and originating, would you believe, in the word ‘Warrington’ – the name of the British company which made it.

Arrasar:  The RAE gives 9 definitions for this word. The last one is Triunfar con rotundidad. Which, I guess, is why it was applied to Queen’s Letizia’s appearance in a stunning red dress. I suppose English variants would include ‘wipe the floor with’ and ‘steal the show’.

English

Pre-loved: Second-hand. The ‘pre-loved economy’ is, naturally, growing apace right now.

Finally   . . . .    

Calle Estafeta is the Pamplona street down which 6 bulls run into the bullring every morning for 8 days in July, ahead of the evening performances. As we sat in it enjoying tapas and wine last week, my road-trip colleague asked me what happened to the bulls once they got there. As I pondered how to answer his question without embarrassing him, he realised what he’d said and laughed. As did everyone in the bar. No, just me.

Estafata: Baton; Courier; Post/mail; Post office.

To amuse . . .  Looking back again, courtesy of Lenox:-

For new readers: If you’ve landed here looking for info on Galicia or Pontevedra, try here. If you’re passing through Pontevedra on the Camino, you’ll find a guide to the city there.

THE ARTICLE

Issues identified and how well they went

The right to continue living, studying, and working in our country of residence:

Successful: all Britons legally resident in an EU member state by the end of the eleven-month transitional phase to 31 December 2020 maintain their right to remain in that state with no further conditions attached, and with the same freedom to work or study that they previously enjoyed. Their families, including any foreign spouses at the time of Brexit, also continue to enjoy their previous status but that status is no longer automatic for any foreign spouse who married a resident Briton post-Brexit.

So far, there have been no enforced deportations, but problems may still lie ahead for the small number of Britons who failed to take advantage of the WA grace period to become legally resident and continue to fly under the radar.

Freedom of movement within the EU

Unsuccessful: With Brexit, we had our EU citizenship and its accompanying rights removed, except for open travel for leisure purposes, into and out of EU states, as EU residents. We no longer have the right to reside or work in any EU member state other than our current country of residence. Nor do we now have the right of family reunification, either by joining relatives (unless they have EU citizenship) in another EU country or by them joining us in our EU country of residence, in our case, Spain. This has hit many of us very hard because we signed up to the Single Market dream and have had it taken away from us through no fault of our own but through a political agreement between the EU and the UK. It is particularly galling as those of us benefiting from the WA will decline in number over the years, thus not setting any precedent. Family reunification is even worse for Britons returning to the UK, where one family member might be treated as a returning citizen and the rest of the family as aliens with no more rights than any other immigrants. This situation has worsened since the introduction of the Immigration Act 2022.

Recognition of professional qualifications [Homologation]

Unsuccessful (so far): All qualifications for regulated professions issued under EU Directives prior to 31 December 2020 will continue to be recognised in their country of residence unless the holder has also been admitted to professional registers in other countries. Any applications for professional recognition submitted before that date will continue to be processed under those Directives and, if successful, the relevant professional qualification will also be recognised. After that date, no applications for recognition under EU Directives will be accepted and they will be treated under the national regulations of the country concerned for non-EU qualifications. The British government is currently trying to negotiate a reversion to the pre-Brexit pan-European rules but without success so far. [But will this make any difference, in reality?]

Recognition in Spain of secondary education qualifications

In Process: A Levels and the like were accepted as equivalent to the Spanish Bachillerato for the purposes of university entrance under legislation for the recognition of qualifications form all other EU countries and those countries with which Spain has signed a mutual recognition agreement, such as China. Brexit has led to negotiations between Spain and the UK for similar recognition to continue under a bilateral agreement. In the meantime, the existing arrangements have been temporarily extended and, for the time being, British school-leaving qualifications continue to be accepted for admission to Spanish universities.

Recognition of UK higher education qualifications

With the exception of professional qualifications explained above, there has been no change: The recognition route for degrees and higher degrees varies according to purpose:

Recognition of degrees for public sector employment: Homologación through the Spanish Ministry of Education, involving a direct comparison with a named Spanish degree. Complicated and lengthy.

Recognition of degrees for private sector employment: At the employer’s discretion except where a regulated activity is concerned.

Recognition for admission to Master’s degree courses and Doctorates: at the discretion of the admitting university

Recognition in all of Spain of UK doctorates: this power has now been delegated to the rectors of Spanish public universities.

Pension Rights and Benefits

Successful: Britons resident in Spain before the 2020 deadline will retain any rights they already possessed to a Spanish pension, Spanish unemployment payments and any other welfare benefits.

Britons resident in EU countries such as Spain, before the deadline, retain such rights as they had to a British pension, including the right to have that pension uprated to the same extent as that given to pensioners resident in the UK.

Also, and most importantly, Britons resident in EU counties before the end of 2020 and retiring subsequently, will still be able to aggregate their years of contribution in each country to meet the overall length of contribution condition, with the payment burden being shared pro-rata by the countries concerned. This will also apply to those becoming legally resident in Spain after 1 January 2021.

Healthcare

Successful. One of the greatest fears was the potential loss of healthcare rights after Brexit. While the cost of private health insurance worried younger Britons, older ones worried that it would be impossible to find insurers that would even take them on. In the event, all British citizens legally resident in Spain before the end of the transition period retained their existing rights to healthcare in the Spanish public health system.

The right to study in Spain

Admission to schools: No change:

Public sector: Open to all resident children registered on the padrón of the relevant municipality, regardless of nationality.

Private schools: at the discretion of each school. Non-resident foreign children may need a visa.

Admission to universities: some changes

Provided they meet the general and course specific admission requirements, all students are welcome in Spanish universities regardless of nationality. Nevertheless, some discrimination is beginning to emerge with regard to fees, with the same set of fees for students from Spain, the EU and EEA countries but with substantially higher fees for students from all other countries. Nevertheless, Spain-resident students from excluded countries also qualify to pay the same lower rates as Spanish students, so we may see British students at the same Spanish university paying different fees based on their residential status.

Admission of Spain-resident students to UK universities

Admission requirements: no change

Fees. Substantial change and partial success

Before Brexit,  EU-domiciled students, including British students resident in an EU country paid Home Student fees in the same way as their UK-based counterparts and also had access to the same loans to cover tuition fees with repayment contingent upon post-graduation income. The arrangements would remain in force until completion of their degrees for all students enrolled before the expiry of the transition period. However, once Brexit came into force, all EU-domiciled would find themselves paying the considerable higher Overseas Student fees and would no longer be entitled to access the Student Loan Scheme to cover tuition fees.

Intense lobbying by British in Europe persuaded the UK government to apply a six-year post-Brexit moratorium on this measure for British EU-domiciled citizens only, meaning that for the first six years after Brexit came into force,  these students would continue to pay Home Student tuition fees and have access to Student Loans to cover those fees. After this transitional period, they will lose these rights and be charged in the same way as the nationals of the country in which they are resident.

Erasmus

The United Kingdom has withdrawn from the Erasmus programme and replaced it with the Turing Scheme. Under Turing, the students of UK universities, regardless of nationality, can undertake study or work practice in almost any other country in the world. The funding is for the outward flow of UK-based students only with no provision for a counterbalancing inward flow from other countries but reciprocal arrangements with overseas institutions may emerge over time. In practice, this means that Spanish and Spain-resident UK students looking for an overseas component in their degree courses will apply through Erasmus if enrolled at a Spanish or other EU university but through Turing if they register at a UK university.

Political rights                                                       

Partially successful

Spain

As EU citizens, Britons resident in Spain had the right to vote and stand for office in Municipal and European elections but not in Spanish national or regional elections. With the loss of EU citizenship, these rights disappeared. Nevertheless, a bilateral agreement has been signed between Spain and the UK restoring our right to vote and stand as candidates in municipal elections, with reciprocal rights for Spanish citizens resident in the UK.

United Kingdom

Whilst a matter for the UK government, and outside the scope of the WA, we have supported those elements of the Elections Act 2022 related to voting rights. Previously, Britons resident outside the UK retained the right to vote in British general elections for fifteen years after their departure, with this right lapsing at the end of this period.

The Elections Act 2022 confers this right for life although the secondary legislation required to allow us to register onto the electoral roll of a particular constituency has yet to be approved. We are lobbying the UK government to accelerate the timetable for this and to include provisions to speed up registration and delivery of ballot papers through adoption of on-line facilities.

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