U.K. exit talks focus on citizens’ rights
BRUSSELS — Talks to extricate Britain from the European Union began in earnest Monday with both sides still seemingly far apart on citizens’ rights after the separation officially takes place in less than two years.
After an initial meeting last month in which the structure of the talks was determined, Britain’s minister for the exit, David Davis, met up with the EU’s chief negotiator in Brussels ahead of four days of discussions.
Progress on citizens’ rights is one of the three main issues that have to be resolved before the two sides can start talking about a wide-ranging free-trade deal, the others being the bill Britain has to pay to meet existing commitments and the border issue in Ireland.
The British proposal offers EU nationals who have lived in Britain for at least five years — as of an unspecified cutoff date — the right to live, work and access benefits.
European officials have said the British proposal to give EU citizens “settled status” does not go far enough.
The issue is the first to be tackled at four days of talks that started Monday.
“It is incredibly important we now make good progress,” Davis said after opening the talks with chief EU negotiator Michel Barnier.
David Davis (left), British secretary of state for exiting the European Union, and EU negotiator Michel Barnier address the media before a meeting Monday at EU headquarters in Brussels.