The UK is due to leave the European Union on 30 March 2019. Until this date, the rights and status of British people living in France are not set to change. However, our future relationship with the EU, including citizens’ rights, remains unclear.
As we go to press, MEPS have voted overwhelmingly to urge the European Council not to start trade talks with the UK because insufficient progress has been made on the three main ‘divorce’ issues: citizens’ rights, the so-called divorce bill and how the border will work between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.
Many of the MEPS at the debate in the European Parliament blamed the stalemate on in-fighting within the Tory party, leading to mixed messages and confusion.
Despite meeting for a week of talks once a month since June, UK and EU negotiators have not yet agreed which court should enforce the rights of EU nationals living in the UK after Brexit, nor the amount of money the UK should pay to settle its accounts with the union.
In a rare collaboration, the CBI employers federation and Trades Union Congress have issued a joint plea for “urgent action” to guarantee citizens’ rights after March 2019. They described the failure to reach consensus as “intolerable” and a “blight on the values of our nations”.
Theresa May gave a speech in Florence, Italy, in late September calling for an “implementation period” of around two years after Britain’s official exit from the union in March 2019. During this time, the Prime Minister said, trade would continue as normal and EU citizens would be able to come and live and work in the UK but there would be a registration system in “preparation for the new regime”. She also said the UK would honour its financial commitments to the union.
Afterwards the chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier said the speech showed a willingness to move forward that could help negotiations, but warned that it could be weeks or months before talks moved on to the next phase.
Meanwhile, MPS have narrowly backed the EU Withdrawal Bill that will end the supremacy of EU law in time for Brexit. The Great Repeal Bill, as it also commonly known, will convert all existing EU laws into UK law.