Proof of income required to enter Spain
Early in July, the Spanish government passed proposals for ‘proof of income’ and other tests, with Ministers saying they hope to save one billion euros a year by forcing EU citizens to meet strict criteria if they wish to stay for three months or more.
Migrants will have to prove they have either a job or enough money to support themselves, and if they are jobless, they must produce health insurance. If they cannot supply the evidence, their application for residency inSpainmay be rejected.
It is unclear what effect the rules will have on those currently living inSpain. Currently, EU directives say that those living in member states for more than three months should not become an ‘unreasonable burden on social services’.
Recently, former LabourUKimmigration minister Phil Woolas said, ‘We do have the power to deport EU citizens – but they are ignored by the British authorities. We should heed the Spanish example and change our approach.’
A new ministerial order, quietly released by the Spanish government on July 9th, states that any EU citizen living in Spain for more than three months must prove they will not become a financial burden on the State, by producing a job contract or documents confirming they have enough money to support themselves.
If they are jobless, they must also show they are covered by health insurance. The decree, which potentially affects thousands of Britons, declares thatSpainwill now adopt a stricter interpretation of the ‘free movement’ principle.
The Spanish government has justified the measures by pointing to Article 7 of the 2004 EU directive on free movement, which gives EU member states the power to define it ‘without prejudice to national border controls’ – in other words, entry conditions can be imposed on other EU citizens by member governments.
The government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy has introduced the new controls in an attempt to cut expenditure on health and social services. Health minister Ana Mato said recently that 700,000 foreigners had moved toSpainjust to obtain free health care.
The country has become a favourite destination for ‘health tourists’ from other EU countries, attracted by short waiting lists, cheap treatment and excellent hospitals.
Under EU law, citizens of member states are entitled to receive health care in any member country. But Spanish authorities say their finances are being drained by the arrangement, with local media claiming Britons are the worst offenders.
In contrast to the Spanish regulations, EU citizens that go to live inBritaindo not need to register or take out health insurance. And the only requirement on those not in work is that they should not become an ‘unreasonable burden’ on public funds. A spokesman for the Spanish Embassy inLondonsaid: ‘You either must hold a job or have the means to support yourself to ensure that you do not become a burden on the Spanish state.
‘Those people who do not hold a job would have to show that they have contracted a medical insurance service to cover them during their stay in Spain, and also that they have the appropriate means to support themselves and any other member of their families. Pensioners do not need medical insurance.’
A Foreign Office spokesman said: ‘This change simply bringsSpainin line with many other EU countries. The British Embassy has issued guidance in English for British expatriates inSpainvia its website. We understand the new rules will affect a relatively small number of expatriates.’
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