U.K. exit talks fo­cus on cit­i­zens’ rights

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

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.

AP/GEERT VAN­DEN WI­JN­GAERT

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.

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