Growing concerns as Brexit talks stall

For any concrete sign that the EU and the UK have not reached an agreement on the rights of EU nationals in Britain and British residents in the EU, you just have to look at the respective websites.

The UK Home Office keeps telling EU citizens they don’t need to apply for residence documents.

The European Commission, instead, recommends EU nationals to apply for a registration certificate.

 

 

Last week, at the end of the 5th round of Brexit talks, the delegations did not produce any technical note displaying areas of agreement or disagreement, unlike previous rounds. EU Commission chief negotiator Michel Barnier admitted that talks have reached a “disturbing deadlock”. On citizens’ rights:

Divergences still exist on the possibility of family reunification and on the exportation of social benefits after Brexit, both of which we want. For us, for example, it is important that any European citizen living in the UK can – in 10 or 15 years’ time – bring his/her parents to the UK, as would be the case for British citizens living in the EU. In the same vein, an EU citizen who has worked for 20 years in the UK should be able to move to an EU Member State and still benefit from his/her disability allowance, under the same conditions as British citizens in the EU. Finally, an important point for the Member States of the Union: the UK has informed us of its intention to put in place a simplified procedure which allows citizens to assert their rights. We will study attentively the practical details of this procedure, which should really be simple for citizens.

Regarding UK nationals living in EU countries, Barnier said that their right to move freely across the EU27 depends on the future relation with the UK, but is not guaranteed now. He also reminded that on citizens’ rights the EU wants a “fully consistent” interpretation of the withdrawal agreement in the European Union and in the United Kingdom. This means, controversially, that the European Court of Justice should maintain its jurisdiction over EU nationals living in the UK.

According to the Financial Times, Germany and France have asked to include a specific sentence on this point in the EU Council conclusions to be approved at the end of this week.

At that meeting, leaders of EU countries will say there hasn’t been “sufficient progress” on the basics (citizens’ rights, Northern Ireland and financial settlement) to move on with negotiations of a EU-UK trade agreement.

“I am livid at the lack of progress in the Brexit negotiations. Not making sufficient progress on citizens’ rights while promising ‘creative solutions’ is simply not good enough for the 3 million EU citizens and the 1.2 million British citizens who have been living in limbo for the last 475 days,” commented Nicolas Hatton, co-chair of activists’ group the3million.

“We are no further forward than we were after the referendum last year,” said Jane Golding of the coalition of British in Europe. “There is now a very real fear that the UK may crash out with no deal, and that we will be thrown under the Brexit bus.”

Carolyn Fairbairn, director general of the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) also called the situation “intolerable”.

No one knows what would happen if negotiations fail. In a radio interview, Theresa May declined the opportunity to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in case of no deal and she accepted this might jeopardise the position of British citizens in the EU.

The Guardian reported that EU Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker does not understand why there should even be a problem on citizens’ rights. “Why not say, easily, with common sense – which is not a political category, as we know – that things will stay as they are? […] Why are we discussing nonsense like that?”

 

Claudia Delpero © all rights reserved.
Photo via Pixabay.

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