MEPs threaten to veto Brexit of­fer on EU na­tion­als

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

The European Par­lia­ment’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor yes­ter­day threat­ened to veto a plan by the Bri­tish gov­ern­ment on the sta­tus of EU na­tion­als af­ter Bri­tain leaves the bloc, call­ing it a “damp squib”. Guy Ver­hof­s­tadt signed the let­ter pub­lished in Bri­tain’s Guardian daily and other European news­pa­pers, along with the lead­ers of the main cen­tre-right and cen­tre-left group­ings in the European Par­lia­ment. “The European Par­lia­ment will re­serve its right to re­ject any agree­ment that treats EU cit­i­zens less fa­vor­ably than they are at present,” the let­ter said.

It said Bri­tain’s plan “would cast a dark cloud of vague­ness and un­cer­tainty over mil­lions of Euro­peans” by giv­ing EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in Bri­tain fewer rights than those of Bri­tish cit­i­zens in the EU. “It was a damp squib,” the let­ter said, adding that the risk was of “cre­at­ing sec­ond- class cit­i­zen­ship”. Un­der the pro­pos­als, European Union na­tion­als who have been res­i­dent in Bri­tain for five years would earn per­ma­nent res­i­dency rights as is cur­rently the case.

But, like non-EU im­mi­grants now, they would lose the right to vote in lo­cal elec­tions in Bri­tain and would be sub­ject to min­i­mum salary re­quire­ments to be able to bring fam­ily mem­bers into the coun­try. The MEPs said the pro­pos­als also left it “un­clear what the sta­tus of post-Brexit ba­bies would be”. Chil­dren born to EU na­tion­als who do not have per­ma­nent leave to re­main will have to ap­ply for it. There are es­ti­mated to be around 3.2 mil­lion European Union na­tion­als liv­ing in Bri­tain and around one mil­lion Bri­tish na­tion­als in other parts of the EU.

Bri­tish Prime Min­is­ter Theresa May out­lined the pro­pos­als last month, call­ing them a “fair and se­ri­ous of­fer”. The EU’s chief Brexit ne­go­tia­tor Michel Barnier at the time dis­missed the plan in a tweet say­ing: “EU goal on cit­i­zens’ rights: same level of pro­tec­tion as in EU law.

More am­bi­tion, clar­ity and guar­an­tees needed than in today’s UK po­si­tion”. Bri­tain voted to leave the European Union in a ref­er­en­dum last year and May for­mally no­ti­fied the EU ear­lier this year of the coun­try’s in­ten­tion to leave, start­ing a two-year count­down to Brexit.

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