Spain wants UK to foot healthcare bill for British citizens

José Manuel García-Margallo had a lot to say on Brexit. [Press Cambrabcn/Flickr]

The Spanish government intends to broker a deal with the United Kingdom under which the outgoing EU member state would cover the healthcare costs of the British diaspora living in Spain. EURACTIV Spain reports.

At an event in Alicante Thursday (30 September), focused on what effect Brexit could have on local business, Spain’s foreign affairs minister said that an agreement between Madrid and London would have to be made on healthcare provision.

“We have to reach an agreement where residents can access (Spanish) healthcare services, but covered by the United Kingdom,” said José Manuel García-Margallo, Spain’s minister for foreign affairs and cooperation.

The minister also criticised the UK for its historic reluctance to engage with European politics, calling its stance “regressive”.

García-Margallo also referred to the upcoming Brexit negotiations, set to begin in March after British Prime Minister Theresa May’s announcement yesterday (2 October), suggesting that a deal similar to the trade deal brokered with Canada, the CETA agreement, would not be feasible.

May says will trigger EU divorce by end of March

Prime Minister Theresa May said yesterday (4 October) she would trigger the process to leave the EU by the end of March, offering the first glimpse of a timetable for a divorce that will redefine Britain’s ties with its biggest trading partner.

Beyond the economic implications of Brexit, the minister also voiced his concerns about the “political turmoil” that could hit the bloc, given other countries’ desire to cut certain ties with the EU and Spain’s own ambitions to move forward with political integration and federalisation.

The president of Alicante’s provincial council, César Sánchez, said that 86,000 British citizens live in the area and in certain municipalities make up nearly 50% of the local population, underlining the problem that will have to be addressed by the UK and Spain.

Over 300,000 UK-born people were living in Spain as of 2015. Over a million British expatriates live in other EU member states and healthcare is set to form a big part of the country’s divorce talks.

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