THE BRITISH embassy in Spain has posted an update on driving licence negotiations, claiming that the agreement that will let UK licence holders legally get back on the roads will be put before the Spanish Cabinet ‘very soon’.
Since May 1 of last year, anyone who is a resident of the country and either did not, or was unable to, exchange their British document for a Spanish one has been banned from driving on the country’s roads.
This has led to an agonising wait for victims of the situation, as the two countries hammered out a post-Brexit deal on driver information exchange and the licence swap issue.
The problem is not just affecting UK nationals, but also Irish, German and Spanish people too.
According to recent posts from the embassy, the deal has been agreed but must still go through several steps before it is finally published in the Official State Gazette (BOE), thus allowing UK licence holders back onto the roads for a six-month period while they exchange their documents for Spanish ones.
‘We know you are anxious for news about when the driving licence agreement will go before the Consejo de Ministros,’ today’s message reads, in reference to the Spanish Cabinet.
‘We continue to press the Spanish Government for a precise date and, while they have not confirmed one yet, they have assured us that it will be very soon,’ it continues. ‘We recognise this is frustrating but, as a Spanish Government process, it is not in our hands. Thank you for your patience.’
While some Facebook users expressed their gratitude for the update, many others conveyed their exasperation that the driving ban has now been in place for more than nine months.
‘Please continue to pressurise the Spanish to push this through,’ wrote Lynn Kelity-Woolcock. ‘I have many true stories to share that this is destroying mental wellbeing and doing untold harm to people. We need our independence back.’
Others voiced bewilderment at the lack of information offered by either side of the negotiations as to the delay, which British ambassador to Spain Hugh Elliott has previously insisted is not related to post-Brexit negotiations on Gibraltar.
‘?Can you formally ask the Spanish authorities to hold a joint press conference and give explanations as to why this has taken so long, whilst all the other EU countries never banned “us” from driving whilst negotiations were ongoing?’ asked a user named Xiam Zamuya.
In its previous update on the situation, released on January 16, the embassy recommended that users book their medical aptitude test, which is required before the licence can be exchanged. Known in Spanish as the psicotécnico, the short examination checks eyesight and reactions.
As some campaigning groups have pointed out, however, the results of these tests are only valid for three months. If the situation were to drag on for that amount of time, some victims could see their aptitude tests expire and have to repeat them at extra cost.
The Olive Press has been highlighting the issue affecting readers across Spain with its ‘U-turn campaign’, and is determined to shine a light on their experiences in the hope of adding pressure on the authorities to make it a priority to resolve the problem.