By Matthew Roscoe • 05 August 2022 • 11:35
On Friday, August 5, the British Embassy in Spain gave an update on the current UK driving licence negotiations via their Facebook page.
“As we move into August, Minister Karl McCartney, Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State at the Department for Transport (the UK Government Department leading on driving licence negotiations) provides a message of reassurance to let those of you who are affected by the ongoing negotiations know that the Department recognises your frustrations and the impact this is having on you, and that they remain committed to getting you back on the road as soon as possible,” the opening paragraph read before a statement from Karl McCartney.
“Working with the British Embassy in Spain and the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office, the Department for Transport has been negotiating with the Spanish Government regarding the exchange of UK driving licences,” he said.
“Our aim is to secure a deal that allows UK licence holders resident in Spain to exchange their licence for a Spanish one without the need for a practical test, so they can return to the roads as soon as possible.
The UK Government has engaged in these negotiations in good faith and ensured that Spanish drivers in the UK have, as always, encountered no limitations nor inconvenience in their ability to drive.”
He added: “We have similar arrangements in place with 24 other EU Member States already, but negotiations with Spain have been made more complicated on account of Spain requiring additional elements which no one else has asked for in relation to driving licence exchange arrangements. Nonetheless, we are working hard to come to an agreement with the Spanish Government.
“We understand that some UK Nationals are currently unable to drive whilst we are negotiating with the Spanish. To those affected, we would reiterate that we understand your frustration and we are aware of the severe impact on your everyday lives. You remain in the ‘front of our minds’ for the Department for Transport’s negotiation team, and we want to have you back on the road as soon as possible.
“The British Embassy in Spain will continue to keep you informed on the progress of negotiations.”
People on Facebook reacted angrily to the update.
“You sound very happy having ensured the Spanish in the UK have no restrictions or inconvenience. Perhaps you gave away your only bargaining power,” one person wrote.
Another said: “Why do they keep playing an ‘update ‘ when there is NO Update? It makes it more frustrating that there is no movement ……literally.”
“There seems to be a different story everytime….what is so hard about signing a piece of paper saying if you have driving licence you can drive..????” said another person.
Another wrote: “More empty words they have no idea how disabling not being able to drive is it affects your whole life it is not acceptable to continue mouthing platitudes which are meaningless when what is required is action this day!!”
“GET IT SORTED !!! You have already stolen 15 weeks of my life !!!!! ITS A DISGRACE !!!!!!!” said another person.
One person said: “You neither understand our frustration and you are neither aware of the severe impact on everyday lives, a complete joke the lot of you.“
Another Facebook user pointed out: “So there’s a setback! now they’re again just “working on an agreement”. Whereas last week they “had agreed the main terms”. So what happened to you “just needing to finalise the appendix language”? Ie. It’s STILL not ready to have the lawyers and politicians sign off on it, still not ready to present to the Spanish Consejo. Just let them have Gibraltar so that we can drive lol.”
In the Embassy’s last update on Friday, July 29, they prepared a Q&A to provide an update on negotiations and round up some of your frequently asked questions, which included:
Will negotiations go on into August?
“Yes. Last week we said that we’d sought assurances on this and that, on the UK side, we had a full negotiating team available. Spain have now confirmed that they can continue negotiations with us over August, which we’re very grateful for.”
“We recognise that many people are considering their whereabouts over August and so would like to know more about the negotiation timeline. Although, as we’ve said before, it’s impossible to give an exact date on when they will conclude, we want to be open about the fact things may take longer than we’d like during August.”
And it also included:
My UK licence has expired. Will I still be able to get a Spanish licence?
“The fact that some people’s licences have expired, or are about to, has been taken into account by the negotiating team. Expired licences shall be accepted provided that they were valid at the time that the licence holder entered Spain.”
Will the agreement only apply to those who were here before the end of 2020 and registered their intent to exchange?
“No. The agreement will apply to anyone holding a UK licence, whether they were here before the end of 2020 or whether they move here in the future.”
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Originally from the UK, Matthew is based on the Costa Blanca and is a web reporter for The Euro Weekly News covering international and Spanish national news. Got a news story you want to share? Then get in touch at [email protected]
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