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Spain ‘to take Gibraltar dispute to UN’
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Spanish PM promises to act over Gibraltar
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Formal UK complaint over Gibraltar
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British insurance firms lodge complaints as holidaymakers in Spain are told to reclaim cost of health care from their insurer
The European Commission is taking legal action against Spain after hospitals refused treatment to British holidaymakers carrying a European health insurance card (Ehic).
Holidaymakers are advised to take an Ehic on their travels, giving them peace of mind that they will be entitled to free healthcare in public hospitals in any of the 27 EU member countries, as well as Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway and Switzerland. While British travellers are not entitled to the same free treatments on offer at the NHS, they are able to access the treatment availble to local residents.
However, the commission has received hundreds of complaints about Spain from holidaymakers who have been told to reclaim the cost of treatment from their travel insurer, or forced to cover it themselves.
A number of leading British insurance companies have lodged official complaints as they are being left to foot the bill for treatment they should not have to pay for – and their increased costs are being passed on to holidaymakers in the form of increased premiums.
The commission has requested information on the issue from the Spanish government, which has two months to respond. There have been reports of similar incidents in Greece and Portugal, but it is not clear if the commission is investigating these as well.
Ehic is supposed to cover the cost of emergency treatment and cover patients for pre-existing long-term medical conditions, although people travelling to the EU are still advised to have travel insurance as private healthcare and flights home are not covered.
The EU says that where possible travellers with an Ehic should insist on being treated under the publicly financed health system and refuse to sign anything they do not understand. They should also keep all receipts and documents.
Property developer looks to offload £244m retail assets, which have been hit by economic crisis in Spain and Portugal
The property developer British Land is looking to sell its £255m portfolio of retail properties in mainland Europe after the assets lost almost a fifth of their value on the back of the economic crisis in Spain and Portugal.
British Land said on Tuesday its mainland European properties, which account for 2.4% of its £10.5bn portfolio, fell 17% in value in the year to the end of March, hit by rental concessions and widening yields. “Looking forward, we consider Europe to be a subscale business for us and our intention is to exit over time,” the chief executive, Chris Grigg, said, adding that the company was not having active discussions with buyers at the moment.
“It could be a long haul, the market’s not that easy in Europe at the moment and we don’t expect any near-term announcement but this is a very clear statement of intent,” he said. British Land entered mainland Europe in 2005 with the purchase of Pillar Property, which had assets in Spain and Italy. It co-owns Spain’s biggest mall, the 200,000 sq metre (2.2m sq ft) Puerto Venecia shopping centre in Zaragoza, and owns a 65% share in the continental European property fund PREF.
Retail sales in the eurozone fell for the second month in a row in March, reflecting the bloc’s high jobless rate and restricted credit conditions, with the worst slump seen in Spain where retail sales fell 10.5% on an annual basis. Like its rivals Hammerson and Land Securities, British Land has been focusing on its core office and shopping centre businesses in London and key UK regions to combat the tough economic outlook facing property markets in Britain and Europe.
In March, it raised almost £1bn for new investments and developments via a share placement and sale of an office block in the City of London. The company, which is building the Cheesegrater skyscraper in the City, said its EPRA (European Public Real Estate Association) net asset value for the year to the end of March rose 0.2% to 596p per share, while profits before tax increased 1.9% to £274m. It also increased its dividend by 1.1% to 26.4p a share.