Spain is to facilitate British residents in Spain, even those who today are not registered as permanent residents, in the case that the UK decides to leave the EU without a deal. The Spanish government says it plans to issue new permits to some 400,000 Britons if the UK leaves the EU abruptly potentially leaving these people in limbo. It is one of the measures in a new contingency plan to be approved this Friday by the Council of Ministers, and then issued as a royal decree law extending all the expected benefits to Gibraltar, although it makes clear that Spain will retain the right of veto on this British colony in any future agreement between London and Brussels.

All the provisions aimed at maintaining, in some way, the status quo for British companies and citizens in Spain are subject to one key requirement: that the United Kingdom apply the same treatment to Spanish nationals in Britain.

The day of the great British departure (in theory, March 30) is approaching and the British Government continue without having given any clear signals about what will then happen. In order to prepare against the potential of a so-call “hard Brexit”, the Spanish Government has taken advantage of the last Council of Ministers in this legislature to approve a royal decree law that will be sent immediately to the Cortes (Parliament) for validation.

Along with this text, the Government plans to approve during this session a law equalising maternity and paternity leave, and sign into law a new decree on rentals

The Brexit decree consists of a set of measures designed to avoid the cliff edge that currently holds back relationships and negotitions in the European Union network with intense Spanish-British anxiety being seen from one day to the next, detailing much less controversial measures -particularly the guarantees to the rights of citizens- and addressing some of the most complex issues, like what will happen with Iberia flights between one city and another in the EU if the airline network (IAG) is suddenly considered to be a company controlled by non-EU shareholders .

The text announced today protects practically all British subjects settled in Spain. Those who have not properly registered before the British withdrawal may maintain their legal residence until their situation is resolved. Everyone must, before January 2021, have requested the so-called ‘Tarjeta de Identidad de Extranjero‘, the foreigner’s identity card, which proves “definitively” legal residence in Spain.

There will be various degrees of difficulty applying depending on the current situation of the person. For those who already have permanent residence, “the process will be almost automatic”.

Otherwise, more procedures will be required. The Government estimates that documents will be issued for approximately 400,000 people, over and above the 300,000 that are now legally registered.