Spanish News August 2016

Petition Calls for UK to Guarantee Pensioners' Healthcare

The 'Brexit petition' on the UK government's website calls for British authorities to commit to healthcare arrangements for its retired citizens living in EU member States, including Spain.

The petition, which has only just been launched, has netted 3,340 signatures, but it needs 10,000 before the UK government is obliged to respond and 100,000 before it is required to debate the issue in Hansard. It is gradually finding its way around social networks.

Currently, in Spain, any British national in receipt of a State pension from the UK or over State retirement age is entitled to use the medical services free of charge, with prescriptions payable at discounted rates up to a maximum of €8 a month. The British government pays Spain €4,200 a year per head to cover, or at least help towards the bulk of, its pensioners' healthcare in Spain. Knowing they were covered by the joint arrangement, few pensioners bought health insurance when they moved to Spain. Whilst insurance to fund private healthcare in the UK meant better quality and quicker service with no waiting lists, Spain's health service ranks second from top in Europe and waiting lists are very short compared with those of Britain's NHS. Some have chosen private health insurance so they can attend clinics run by northern Europeans who are more likely to speak English fluently, but those who have never had the need and have aged since they resettled in Spain know they would be unable to afford prohibitive premiums due to pre-existing conditions suffered since emigrating or, even if they are healthy, merely because of their age.

Non-pensioners from EU countries living in most regions in Spain are able to access free healthcare if they have been registered as a resident since before April 2012 and earn less than €100,000 a year.

Gibraltar Calls for Second Brexit/Bremain Referendum

96% of its voters backed 'Remain'. The enclave is in talks with Scotland, since the Chief Ministers of each say it is unfair that their people should be forced out of the single market and free movement agreement without their consent.

There are concerns about Spain's continued threats that the Rock would not be able to enjoy free movement of workers unless it agreed to joint sovereignty. The advantages of being within the EU are enormous for Gibraltar's inhabitants. Gibraltar is exempt from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), the application of intra-state IVA, the Customs Union and the Common Trade Policy (CTP).

Gibraltar has been British for 303 years and in 2002 the people living there overwhelmingly rejected a potential joint sovereignty agreement, saying they want to remain British.

Petition Online For Government to Allow Joint UK-Spanish Nationality to Brits Following Brexit

A petition on Change.org is calling for the Spanish government to allow dual nationality to Brits living in Spain after 10 years of residence. The petition, which gathered over 3,000 signatures in its first two days, points out that a 'Brexit' could leave British nationals living in Spain in legal limbo, which may lead to many deciding they had no choice but to become Spanish.

Although Spain allows dual nationality to anyone from its former colonies including the Latin American countries, the Philippines, Equatorial Guinea, Portugal and Andorra, citizens from anywhere else have to renounce their nationality of birth in order to obtain a Spanish passport. Britain, by contrast, allows Spaniards living there to become dual UK and Spanish citizens after five years.

To obtain Spanish nationality, applicants need to have lived in Spain for 10 years and take a 'cultural test', which covers brief outlines of the political structure, famous people, basic geography and day-to-day law.

The law on joint nationality could easily be changed, since a new ruling last year means that anyone, anywhere in the world, who can trace their direct ancestry back to the Sephardic Jews deported from Spain during the Inquisition in 1492, is automatically entitled to joint Spanish citizenship.

Barcelona Bans Segways On Seafront

Barcelona city council has banned Segways and other similar vehicles from the seafront until October 1st. The promenade between the Hotel Vela and the C/ Marina is now pedestrian-only. The move has proven unpopular with the companies which hire out Segways. They say they never cause problems with pedestrians on the esplanade because they run guided tours with experienced instructors.

Fines of up to €90 are applied for offenders, or to the hire company if the user is not the owner, which also means the companies will be liable for customers' behavior.

Riding these vehicles in a 'dangerous or inconsiderate fashion' - including breaking the speed limit - will attract fines of up to €1,125.
It is not clear whether the seafront ban on 'personal mobility vehicles' also includes mobility scooters, although some vehicles may be allowed, but legal requirements such as proper working lights and public liability insurance are likely to be applied.

In Benidorm, mobility scooter hire firms are now required to ask for proof of disability before letting customers rent them and, without this proof, only let them be used by customers of a certain age.

Spanish Airlines Want To Scrap Passport Control At Departure Gates

Airlines operating in Spain have urged the Ministry of Transport to scrap the requirement for passengers to show their passports or national ID cards at the departure gates, in order to speed up the boarding process. They have also called for more human and financial resources to be employed to make searches, checks and general handling quicker, especially at passport control where queues tend to build up in summer.

Spain is one of just four countries within the 26 nations in the Schengen zone, along with Italy, Portugal and the Czech Republic, where passports or ID cards have to be shown at the boarding gates, and this slows proceedings down by an average of five minutes even on flights which are not busy.

Passengers flying into Spain from the UK, however, would still need to show their passports at the boarding gates and continue to do so when flying from Spain to the UK at passport control before exiting the building, since Britain is not in the passport-free Schengen zone.

Tuberculosis Outbreak At Castellón Primary School

Three children in reception class have been found to be carriers, although only one of them so far has developed the disease, according to regional health authorities. Pupils were tested after a child was admitted to Castellón General Hospital in May, where he remains in isolation.

Eight In 10 Spaniards Seek Flexible Working Hours To Spend Quality Time With Their Pets

Four in 10 Spaniards take some of their annual leave from work to spend time with a brand-new pet and help them settle in and as many as 80% have asked their bosses for more flexible hours so they can have quality time with their pets. A quarter of pet-owners said they would even change their job to ensure they could work their office hours around their pet. 40% say they think of their pets more often than they think of their partners and actually love them more than their other halves!