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Government approves adaptation measures for definitive withdrawal of United Kingdom from European Union

Tuesday 29 December 2020

The preparation and contingency plans approved include three types of action: regulatory, logistical (provision of material and human resources) and informative. And, thanks to the preparatory work undertaken, Spain will be in a better position to tackle the unprecedented situation that will begin on 1 January, and which will give rise to far-reaching changes in many aspects of relations with the United Kingdom, which will affect citizens, economic operators and public authorities.

The Royal Decree-Law contains a raft of measures subject to a limited timeframe, which will require reciprocity from the British authorities, and provides for their suspension in the absence of this reciprocity within a term of two months. In addition, a final provision has been included aimed at ensuring that the entry into force of the measures is fully compatible with the final entry into force of the Agreements reached between the EU and the UK on 24 December.

For those whose activity has commenced prior to 1 January 2021, the measures adopted on Tuesday will allow British people to continue exercising such professions as require being a Member State national. A five-year term is provided for the presentation of applications for the recognition of professional qualifications, which will be resolved under the current system.

UK nationals and EU nationals resident in the UK that exercise a profession on a temporary basis in Spain will also be able to continue exercising such activity to comply with agreements entered into prior to 1 January. British professional companies, in turn, may continue to carry on their activity in Spain for a period of six months (until 30 June 2021). This period will be extended throughout 2021 for auditors and audit firms.

Access to and maintenance of the status of public employee is also provided for British citizens in Spain, provided that access thereto takes place prior to 1 January, together with the possibility of taking part in selective processes for public authority positions as long as the application is presented prior to the same date.

In terms of employment relations, Tuesday's measures adopted by the government provide for the maintenance of the transitional regime applicable in relation to workers temporarily posted by Spanish companies to the United Kingdom within the framework of the provision of services (UK legislation on the transposition of Directive 96/71/EC is expected to continue to be applied).

The possibility is also provided for workers of companies established in the United Kingdom but posted to Spain prior to 31 December 2020 to remain in Spain for the duration of the provision of said service until the posting is concluded.

The measures ratified on Tuesday also guarantee the protection of the rights of workers in relation to social security, and include measures so that UK nationals and EU nationals can receive unemployment benefits for the periods contributed until 31 December 2020 in any EU Member State including the periods contributed in the United Kingdom, provided that the last contributions have been made in Spain and the right is maintained to legally reside in Spain.

Healthcare provisions

The broad raft of measures adopted on Tuesday also caters for healthcare provisions for British nationals based on two basic principles: continuity and reciprocity. Accordingly, the continued validity of the healthcare cards of British nationals resident in Spain is provided for until 30 June 2021, along with the dispensation of prescriptions for medication issued in the United Kingdom.

As regards students coming from education systems in the United Kingdom, they may continue to sign up for procedures for access to Spanish universities for the academic year 2021-2022 under the same terms as provided for students from the education systems of EU Member States.

The measures adopted on Tuesday also regulate economic activities, which will allow for the continuity of contracts to provide financial services by British entities signed prior to 1 January 2021, with certain conditions and limitations. This measure seeks to avoid increased uncertainty and the loss of access to European markets affecting financial stability or prejudicing clients of financial services.

The authorisation or registration granted by British authorities to entities providing financial services will provisionally remain in force until 30 June 2021, to carry out activities that are necessary for the purposes of the orderly termination or assignment of agreements entered into before 1 January 2021 to entities duly authorised to provide financial services in Spain under the contractually agreed terms. This period may be extended until 31 December 2022 for insurance companies.

In terms of public recruitment, the continuity of the legal regime applicable to British economic operators will also be continued that have taken part in award processes of public contracts prior to 1 January 2021.

Authorisations and licences

The measures provide for British driving licences to remain valid for their holders to drive in Spain for six months as from 1 January 2021. Permits for weapons, explosives, fireworks and cartridges will remain valid until their expiry, provided they have been issued prior to 1 January 2021.

Through the Royal Decree-Law approved on Tuesday, all measures that protect workers regardless of their nationality, including for citizens of Gibraltar, will be extended to Gibraltar until 30 June 2021. Furthermore, the European Union regulation that gives entitlement to receive medical assistance in Spanish public hospitals when travelling to Spain and for residents in Spain will be extended.

Through these measures, citizens of Gibraltar registered as such as at 31 December 2020 may continue to exercise professions that require the status of a Member State national, and may continue their employment for public authorities and continue undertaking research in Spain without the need for any new authorisation or permit. Their driving licences will remain valid in Spain until 30 June 2021.

All these measures are subject to reciprocity; if the authorities of Gibraltar do not apply them, the Royal Decree-Law enables the government to suspend them for nationals of Gibraltar.

Non official translation