Three mil­lion EU mi­grants to get right to stay

Theresa May makes open­ing of­fer to Euro­pean lead­ers but in­sists any deal must pro­tect rights of one mil­lion Bri­tish ex­pats as well

The Daily Telegraph - - Front page - By Steven Swin­ford Deputy po­lit­i­cal edi­tor and Peter Fos­ter

MORE than three mil­lion Euro­pean Union cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK will be given the right to stay per­ma­nently after Brexit and treated like Bri­tish cit­i­zens, Theresa May told Euro­pean lead­ers last night.

The Prime Min­is­ter made a “fair and se­ri­ous of­fer” to Euro­pean lead­ers in Brus­sels as she pledged that all those who ar­rived in Bri­tain be­fore she trig­gered Ar­ti­cle 50 in March would be en­ti­tled to stay.

Mrs May also said that she did not want to “break up fam­i­lies”, in a clear in­di­ca­tion that the spouses and chil­dren of EU cit­i­zens who live abroad will be el­i­gi­ble to join them in the UK.

How­ever, she said it was “vi­tal” that any deal would have to be “re­cip­ro­cal” and based on the EU grant­ing the one mil­lion Bri­tish cit­i­zens who live in Eu- rope the same rights.

She also re­fused to meet EU de­mands that the “cut-off date”, after which EU cit­i­zens will no longer au­to­mat­i­cally be en­ti­tled to stay in the UK, should fall on the day that Bri­tain leaves the EU.

She in­stead said that it would be a mat­ter for ne­go­ti­a­tion and could fall at any point be­tween March 29 2017, the date that Ar­ti­cle 50 was trig­gered, and the date that Bri­tain leaves the EU, which is ex­pected to be in March 2019.

All those ar­riv­ing after the “cut-off date” will be given a two-year “grace pe­riod” and will be sub­se­quently ex­pected to ob­tain a work per­mit or re­turn to their home coun­tries.

If the cut-off date falls in 2019, as the EU de­mands, it ef­fec­tively means that free­dom of move­ment will con­tinue un­til 2021.

An­gela Merkel, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, said that while Mrs May’s of­fer on EU cit­i­zens’ rights was a “good start”, there were many is­sues that needed to be re­solved be­fore the first phase of talks end in Oc­to­ber.

Xavier Bet­tel, the prime min­is­ter of Lux­em­bourg, told re­porters after the din­ner that he was non-com­mit­tal on the UK of­fer. “We need some more days to get more in­for­ma­tion,” he said. Chris­tian Kern, the Aus­trian chan­cel­lor, re­acted sim­i­larly. “There were so many de­tails left open,” he said as he left the sum­mit.

Mrs May also set up a fur­ther clash with the EU by re­ject­ing de­mands that the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice should con­tinue to over­see the rights of EU mi­grants after Brexit.

She said: “The com­mit­ment that we make to EU cit­i­zens will be en­shrined in EU law and en­forced through our highly re­spected courts”. She told Euro­pean lead­ers after a work­ing din­ner in Brus­sels: “The UK’S po­si­tion rep­re­sents a fair and se­ri­ous of­fer, one aimed at giv­ing as much cer­tainty as pos­si­ble to cit­i­zens who have set­tled in the UK, build­ing ca­reers and lives and con­tribut­ing so much to our so­ci­ety.”

A se­nior of­fi­cial added: “We will be aim­ing to treat them [EU mi­grants] as if they were UK cit­i­zens for healthcare, ed­u­ca­tion, ben­e­fits and pen­sions.”

Mrs May’s ini­tial of­fer, which will be de­tailed in full in a po­si­tion pa­per pub­lished on Mon­day, comes as she tries to keep pro-euro­pean Con­ser­va­tive MPS on­side in the wake of the Tories’ dis­as­trous per­for­mance at the Gen­eral Elec­tion. She re­fused to meet Labour de­mands that Bri­tain should agree “uni­lat­er­ally” to pro­tect the rights of EU mi­grants be­fore se­cur­ing a guar­an­tee for Bri­tons liv­ing in the EU. Un­der the plans, those who have al­ready lived in the UK for five years will be granted “set­tled sta­tus” and al­lowed to live in Bri­tain per­ma­nently.

Any­one ar­riv­ing be­fore the “cut-off date” will also be en­ti­tled to stay per­ma­nently, as long as they re­main in Bri­tain for at least five years. The of­fer will even ap­ply to those who ar­rive just a day be­fore the date.

Mrs May has re­sisted de­mands to guar­an­tee the rights of EU mi­grants un­til the day Bri­tain leaves the EU. Min­is­ters have raised con­cerns that do­ing so could lead to a “surge” in the num­ber of EU mi­grants com­ing to the UK be­fore Brexit. It will also give Mrs May sig­nif­i­cant lever­age in ne­go­ti­a­tions.

The Prime Min­is­ter made clear that en­shrin­ing the rights of EU mi­grants liv­ing in the UK in law would be a red line. A se­nior Bri­tish of­fi­cial said: “We have been clear on the Euro­pean Court of Jus­tice that we are tak­ing back con­trol of our own laws.”

Mrs May also promised to “stream­line” mi­grants’ ap­pli­ca­tions to re­main amid con­cerns that there are cur­rently huge back­logs.

A se­nior of­fi­cial said: “The Prime Min­is­ter sig­nalled that the ad­min­is­tra­tion of the sys­tem would be as stream­lined as pos­si­ble us­ing dig­i­tal tools to reg­is­ter peo­ple in a light-touch way.”

There are sev­eral de­tails about the of­fer which will be spelled out on Mon­day. Mrs May did not ex­plic­itly say whether the spouses of EU mi­grants would be al­lowed to join them in the UK. She also did not say whether EU cit­i­zens would be able to con­tinue send­ing child ben­e­fit back home if their chil­dren do not live in the UK.

Be­fore the meet­ing, Mrs May said: “I’m go­ing to be set­ting out some of the UK’S plans, par­tic­u­larly on how we pro­pose to pro­tect the rights of EU cit­i­zens and UK cit­i­zens as we leave. We’ve wanted it to be one of the early is­sues to be con­sid­ered in the ne­go­ti­a­tions. That is now the case. That work is start­ing.”

Ear­lier Don­ald Tusk, pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil, re­ferred to the John Len­non song Imag­ine when he said he would like Bri­tain to stay in the EU.

He said: “Some of my Bri­tish friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be re­versed and whether I could imag­ine an out­come where the UK stays part of the EU. I told them that, in fact, the Euro­pean Union was built on dreams that seemed im­pos­si­ble to achieve. So, who knows. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

DON­ALD TUSK yes­ter­day in­voked John Len­non as he said he “dreams” that Bri­tain could still stay in the Euro­pean union.

The pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Coun­cil said it is not “im­pos­si­ble” that Brexit could be aban­doned, adding: “You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

It came on the day that Theresa May made a “fair and se­ri­ous of­fer” to give EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK the right to stay per­ma­nently after Brexit and be treated like Bri­tish cit­i­zens.

Mark Rutte, the Dutch prime min­is­ter, said that as a com­mit­ted An­glophile he “hates Brexit from ev­ery pos­si­ble an­gle”.

Mr Tusk said: “You can hear dif­fer­ent pre­dic­tions com­ing from dif­fer­ent peo­ple about the pos­si­ble out­come of these ne­go­ti­a­tions – hard Brexit, soft Brexit or no deal. Some of my Bri­tish friends have even asked me whether Brexit could be re­versed and whether I could imag­ine an out­come where the UK stays part of the EU. I told them that, in fact, the Euro­pean Union was built on dreams that seemed im­pos­si­ble to achieve. So, who knows. You may say I’m a dreamer, but I’m not the only one.”

How­ever, he was al­most im­me­di­ately con­tra­dicted by other Euro­pean lead­ers in­clud­ing Jean Claude-juncker, the pres­i­dent of the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion, who said: “In Europe I never have il­lu­sions be­cause I don’t want to lose them.”

Charles Michel, the Bel­gian prime min­is­ter, said: “I am not a dreamer. And I am not the only one.”

It came as An­gela Merkel, the Ger­man chan­cel­lor, said that Brexit was less of a “pri­or­ity” than the fu­ture of

the Euro­pean Union. She said: “I want to say clearly that, for me, shap­ing the fu­ture for the 27 takes pri­or­ity over the ne­go­ti­a­tions with Great Bri­tain over with­drawal. Nat­u­rally we will con­duct these ne­go­ti­a­tions quickly and we will con­duct them in­ten­sively. We will do ev­ery­thing to en­sure that – as has been suc­cess­fully done so far – the 27 states stick to­gether.

“We want this ne­go­ti­a­tion to take place in a good spirit. We know that we will want to work with Great Bri­tain later. But the clear fo­cus must be on the fu­ture of the 27, so that we have the best re­sults.”

Em­manuel Macron, the French pres­i­dent, said he pre­ferred to talk about Europe’s am­bi­tions and plans than get in­volved in “dis­cus­sions last­ing days and nights on its dis­man­tling”.

Mr Macron re­peated his po­si­tion that the door re­mains open for a U-turn on Brexit, but warned that it will be-

come more dif­fi­cult the longer talks be­tween David Davis, the Brexit Sec­re­tary, and Michel Barnier, the EU ne­go­tia­tor, con­tinue. “The door is open un­til the mo­ment you walk through it. It’s not up to me to say it’s closed,” Mr Macron told The Guardian.

Mr Rutte sug­gested that he re­spected the out­come of last year’s ref­er­en­dum, even if he re­gret­ted it.

“I am an An­glophile,” said Mr Rutte. “You are one of our most beloved part­ners, so I hate Brexit from ev­ery an­gle. But you can’t ar­gue with democ­racy.”

Ar­riv­ing at the Euro­pean Coun­cil sum­mit for the first time since this month’s snap elec­tion left her in a weak­ened po­si­tion at the head of a mi­nor­ity govern­ment, Mrs May in­sisted that talks on with­drawal had be­gun in a “con­struc­tive” way.

“What I am go­ing to be set­ting out to­day is clearly how the United King­dom pro­poses to pro­tect the rights of Em­manuel Macron, fresh from win­ning a large ma­jor­ity, and An­gela Merkel talk to Theresa May at the Brus­sels sum­mit EU cit­i­zens liv­ing in the UK and see the rights of UK cit­i­zens liv­ing in Europe pro­tected,” she said. “That’s been an im­por­tant is­sue. We’ve wanted it to be one of the early is­sues to be con­sid­ered in the ne­go­ti­a­tions. That is now the case. That work is start­ing.”

The Prime Min­is­ter also urged Euro­pean lead­ers to put pres­sure on so­cial me­dia web­sites such as What­sapp and Face­book to give se­cu­rity ser­vices ac­cess to en­crypted mes­sages so they can tackle ter­ror­ists. Mrs May called on the EU to help “rid ter­ror­ist ma­te­rial from the in­ter­net in all our lan­guages” in the wake of the Manch­ester, Lon­don Bridge and Fins­bury Park ter­ror at­tacks.

Speak­ing at the Euro­pean Coun­cil she said that the ter­ror threat is “evolv­ing quickly”, high­light­ing the fact that in Manch­ester an im­pro­vised ex­plo­sive de­vice was used while in Lon­don the at­tacks in­volved ve­hi­cles and knives.

She said that tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies must “ful­fil their re­spon­si­bil­i­ties” and au­to­mat­i­cally re­move ex­trem­ist con­tent in­stead of act­ing “re­ac­tively” once they are no­ti­fied by users.

She said that “con­certed pres­sure” is needed to stop end-to-end en­cryp­tion, where even the so­cial me­dia com­pa­nies them­selves can­not ac­cess the con­tent of mes­sages.

♦ Mr Juncker yes­ter­day hailed a new deal on EU de­fence co-op­er­a­tion which will see Europe shar­ing de­fence pro­cure­ment and work­ing to­gether on small projects such as lo­gis­tics and of­fi­cer train­ing. He said: “What was started in 1954 is hap­pen­ing now ... I said this was ‘the sleep­ing princess’ of the Lis­bon Treaty. Well, the Princess is now awak­en­ing.”

Theresa May ar­rives at the Europa Build­ing, the main head­quar­ters of Euro­pean Coun­cil in Brus­sels, be­fore the EU lead­ers’ sum­mit

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