Spanish government approves contingency plans for no-deal Brexit

Sánchez, on Wednesday.
Sánchez, on Wednesday. / EFE
  • The decree, designed to face all eventualities if the UK leaves the EU without an agreement, including maintaining citizens' rights, was approved at the Cabinet meeting on Friday

Spain's Brexit contingency plans were approved at the government's Cabinet meeting on Friday, 1 March, as announced by prime minister Pedro Sánchez earlier in the week.

The package of measures is aimed at covering all eventualities that could arise from a disorderly Brexit, in other words if the UK leaves the EU on 29 March without a deal.

The contingency plans, which will have to be ratified by Congreso in two weeks' time, have been drawn up to preserve the rights and interests of Spaniards in the UK and British residents in Spain, as well as to protect commercial relations.

British citizens already residing in Spain, says the government in its Brexit section on its website, will be considered legal residents in this country under the contingency plan and the necessary measures will be adopted to guarantee existing rights, such as social security, healthcare and recognition of qualifications, among others.

As far as commercial relations are concerned, the plans are designed to ease the flow of goods between the UK and the EU, taking into account the new obligations in terms of customs and health and safety checks, among others.

The plans will only come into force at midnight on 29 March if the UK leaves with no deal. The measures will be temporary with the aim of "facilitating the transition" until more permanent arrangements are agreed.

Brexit delay

With regard to the possibility of the UK asking for a last-minute extension to its Brexit deadline, Sánchez said on Wednesday that the Spanish government "would not oppose a delay". He stated, however, that the extension would need to come with "a real chance of a solution" because it is not reasonable nor desirable to "prolong the uncertainty".

A delay would be acceptable, he said, if there were a real chance of it being used to get the withdrawal agreement passed by the British parliament, or if the parliament deciding to stay in the customs union or to hold a second referendum.