Brexit Fallout: EU and UK Still at Odds over Citizens’ Rights

Written by | Friday, June 30th, 2017

After British Prime Minister Theresa May first outlined her vision of the future of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit, there was little initial enthusiasm on the EU side.  The EU’s goal on citizens’ rights, said its chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier, is “the same level of protection as [is offered] in EU law. More ambition, clarity and guarantees needed than in today’s UK position,” he tweeted.

The EU maintains that the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in the EU should be the same after Brexit as they are now. In contrast, London currently envisages loss of some of those rights, for example the loss of an unconditional right to bring family members from third countries into the UK or the loss of legal protection of the European Court of Justice (ECJ).

“I know there has been some anxiety about what would happen to EU citizens at the point we leave the European Union,” Mrs. May said, adding that “I want to completely reassure people that under these plans no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave at the point the UK leaves the EU – we want you to stay.”

Mrs. May is being forced to make a quick progress on the issue of EU nationals living in the UK, so that she can proceed with trade negotiations that will define how the UK’s economic relations with the EU will look like after Brexit. Mr. Barnier, however, said that Mrs. May will have to make further concessions on her side, although Mrs. May’s office commented that the government believed that the offer was fair.

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