Citizens' groups in Spain react to third round of Brexit negotiations

David Davis and Michel Barnier in Brussels.
David Davis and Michel Barnier in Brussels. / REUTERS
  • Talks between Michel Barnier and David Davis included protecting existing EU healthcare arrangements amid calls to speed up the process

Citizens' and Brexit groups in Spain have shown mixed reactions to the conclusion of the latest round of Brexit negotiations.

Ending recent talks, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier and UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davis, gave a press conference in which Davis said that the two sides had made some progress on citizens’ rights.

“Both sides have agreed to protect the rights of frontier workers, to cover future social security contributions for those covered by the withdrawal agreement and that we should at least protect existing healthcare rights and arrangements for EU27 citizens in the UK and UK nationals in the EU,” said Davis.

By healthcare he was referring to the existing European Health Card (EHIC) arrangements. He added, “That is good news for example, for British pensioners in the EU: it means that they will continue to have their healthcare arrangements protected both where they live and - when they travel to another member state - to be able to use an EHIC card.”

"All just words"

Pan-European anti-Brexit campaigners, British in Europe, of which the group Bremain in Spain is part, responded through a press release which stated that while they considered the words “encouraging” they believe that it remains “unclear as to exactly who they would benefit” and that at this stage it is still “all just words”.

The Citizens’ Advice Bureau (CAB)in Spain published a press release via social media amid concerns over residents’ rights post Brexit and specifically about a change in procedure following a 48-page leaked UK government document regarding EU residents’ rights in the UK.

The CAB fears that the Spanish government may change its existing procedure for a more complicated one if reciprocal arrangements are made post Brexit. They have called for UK residents living in Spain to put their names to a letter asking the EU institutions and UK government, including Simon Manley, the UK ambassador to Spain, to lobby on behalf of existing UK residents in Spain.

The negotiations are scheduled to take place once a month for one week at a time. However UK Prime Minister, Theresa May, has asked that they be speeded up.