The Adeje-based Focus group, representing foreign residents in the borough, has had a busy year with some new projects scheduled for 2018.
The Focus Group is an informal advisory group established to reflect the concerns and needs of the non-Spanish speaking international community living in Adeje, and to liaise with the council on matters of mutual interest and concern. It has evolved over the last two years with a working group of members from different nationalities coming together once a month to see how we can advance the integration of foreign national groups into the day to day life of Adeje and meets once a month.
The group’s working language is English, but it is not just for English people – instead it is for residents who have English as their primary language, or in the case of some, as their second language after their mother tongue. There are members from the UK, from Ireland, from the Ukraine, and are working to invite members from other countries.
During the year Focus organised or co-operated on a number of projects of interest to foreign residents in Adeje, including the first in a series of guided tours of historic parts of the borough of Adeje. Given the large number of British people in the borough there were also a number of Brexit-related events and public meetings.
At the end of 2017 the group moved the base for the meetings to the Adeje Escuela de Seguridad y Convivencia (the Adeje school for security and social harmony, based in Los Olivos), which is the council’s centre for many international cultural and social groups. And with cooperation from the school there are a number of new projects scheduled for 2018.
In 2018 the group hope to help in the plans for an international day for foreign residents. They are also inviting other cultural and social organisations to meet with them to discuss shared challenges and interests and examine the possibility of establishing an information centre for different nationalities based in Adeje working through different languages.
The event is open to the public, residents and visitors
Are you a British resident here in Adeje, in South Tenerife? Are you confused by Brexit? Have you some key questions you want answered?
Next Wednesday, October 18th, Tim Hemmings, deputy head of mission at the British Embassy, will host a public meeting at 12 noon, in the Adeje Cultural Centre. The event is open to all members of the public, residents and visitors.
The consul for the Canary Islands Charmaine Arbouin and the Tenerife vice-consul and permanent representative Helen Keating will also be in attendance. Adeje councillor for institutional relations Zebenzui Chinea Linares will inaugurate the meeting.
Stability of pensions, availability of health care, retirement rights, job and residential security are just some of the concerns that are voiced on a regular basis by residents.
The event is being held in the Aula Magna, second floor, Adeje Cultural Centre, and Mr Hemmings and the team will work to address the questions of British residents and visitors, many of whom own property here or live here for up to six months of the year and want to see how their rights may be affected.
No registration is needed to attend the event, but seating will be limited.
Department of Communications
Brexit: “Stick to the facts and you’ll know what’s going on”
Up to 100 Britons attended an information seminar organised by Blevins Franks at the Adeje Cultural Centre this week, invited by the Adeje international residents group Focus, with the support of the council. They heard from the financial advice company that in their professional opinion that it was in the interests of the Spanish government to make sure that British residents in Spain were looked after, and that good working relations with the British government continued to flourish.
Adeje councillor for institutional relations and youth affairs, Zebenzui Chinea Lineras, welcomed the attendees and said that Adeje was very aware of its commitment to all residents of the over 120 countries living in the borough. He said they would be interested in all the suggestions and ideas that came out of the conference and hoped the questions many people had would be addressed.
“Rajoy and Theresa May are thick as thieves”, Wayne Sheridan told the conference, saying that Theresa May was on the plane to Spain to speak to Rajoy within 24 hours of his confirmation as leader of the country following the most recent election here. “Rajoy has too much to lose”, Sheridan said, pointing to the €30 billion that he would forfeit, “if he gets it wrong”. He said that personally he hadn’t been a fan of Brexit but that to date Theresa May hadn’t put a foot wrong in her negotiations with the EU and he firmly believed that both the rights of EU citizens in Britain and those of British residents here in Spain were not under threat.
Paul Montague, the other speaker from Blevins Franks, dealt with the exchange of information between governments regarding taxes, and the need for full declaration of assets in both countries. He also stressed the huge importance of legitimising your situation here, something that echoed the earlier contribution of Clio O’Flynn, who spoke about the importance of registering on the ‘Padrón’, and the multitude of benefits for the resident as well as local government.
Over 120 people attended the recent Brexit/Bremain conference held in the Adeje Cultural Centre, with questions ranging from issues about pensions to health care provisions and questions surrounding possible financial implications to businesses and exchange rates in the case of a majority vote to leave.
The conference was organised by the FOCUS Adeje International Residents Group and the Adeje Council, with British residents from Adeje and other boroughs in attendance. First to speak was deputy mayor Carmen Rosa Gonzalez Cabrera. She told participants, “Today’s event is about you and how the vote on June 23rd might affect you and your families. I hope that the answers you get this afternoon will clear up doubts you may have, and help you have a clearer vision of what matters.
“I will say one thing from my point of view, from the council’s point of view – you are as much a part of Adeje as anyone else who lives here – we are all part of the European family, and we don’t want to lose you, so I do hope that on June 23rd the majority vote will be to remain in the European Union”.
The panel speakers were Paul Montague, Blevins Franks Tenerife representative, Adeje based Spanish lawyer José Escobedo, and Tenerife blogger and academic Janet Anscombe, all of whom answered a range of questions from the audience, easing fears of any immediate major and unwelcome repercussions in the event of a No vote – with the supposition that in the event of a yes vote very little would need to change.
Paul told the audience that if the majority vote was to leave the European Union, negotiations to “extract the UK from the EU would take a minimum of two years, and most likely many more”. He also referred people to the Vienna Convention on the Law of Treaties ‘Acquired Rights’, which states that the termination of a treaty, in this case the UK’s membership of the EU, ‘does not affect any right, obligation or legal situation of the parties created through the execution of the treaty prior to its termination’ (Article 70.1B). “In a nutshell, if you have made your bed in another country (taxes, residencia, home and social) then under this convention these have to remain”.
José Escobedo also referred to regional laws which protected residents, and reaffirmed the long standing good relations the British and the Spanish have enjoyed over the centuries, “We even kept one of Nelson’s arms”, adding that this was very unlikely to be changed by the vote. Jose also addressed the legal issue of resident status stating clearly that anyone who had lived and registered as a resident in Spain over a number of years would continue to enjoy all the rights and benefits of a resident regardless of the outcome on June 23rd.
Janet Anscombe told the conference that many of the perceived EU-related problems in the UK were in fact issues of national policy. “The UK has a residency based social welfare system, so anyone who resides in the UK has automatic rights to, housing, social welfare and health benefits, whereas here in Spain it’s a contributory social welfare system, so if you haven’t paid in you can’t claim. That has nothing to do with the EU, it is a result of British Government policy and something I don’t see any political party in the UK likely to change, but people are tending to blame the European Union for the negative effects it can produce”.
At the end of the meeting a show of hands indicated quite a high number of those in attendance had registered to vote, a reflection of both the huge interest this matter has for overseas UK residents and the high profile campaign the UK government has run to encourage the millions of Britons living abroad to register.
There are so many questions being asked about ‘what if’ as we approach the June 23rd vote in the UK and, it would seem, few answers. The questions centre on issues such as the right to free movement and the right to work, health care, education, pensions and investments among other key topics.
Politically the debate seems to be focussed almost entirely in the UK – but what about the millions of ex-pats who live abroad – are their rights and concerns being taken into consideration? Almost 300,000 of them are living in Spain, and over 7,000 in Adeje alone.
Focus, an Adeje-based International Focus group of local non-Spanish residents, has requested that the Adeje council collaborate in hosting an information evening. This is taking place on Tuesday May 24th, in the Adeje Cultural Centre auditorium, from 5pm – 7pm.
The experts who will be there to answer questions will be Paul Montague from Blevins Franks and San Eugenio lawyer José Escobedo– and they are expecting to deal with issues ranging from health care to the right to work and live in Spain in the event of a vote to leave the EU. This is not an evening for political debate about the pros and cons of staying of leaving the European Union, it is to answer questions people have and may have in the future.
Have you a particular question you want answered? Are you seeking a particular piece of information that will help you make up your mind? Please come along to the Adeje Cultural Centre, and email your questions in advance to email@example.com.
(The café will be open in the cultural centre, which is on Calle Universidad de La Laguna, and there is parking at the back of the building open to the public)