The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt, said the EU and UK are “very near” to an agreement to guarantee the rights of thousands of EU expat’s after Britain leaves the European Union.
Following the meeting in Strasbourg he tweeted that the bloc was nearing a “satisfying” solution to guaranteeing the rights of EU nationals living in Britain and throughout the continent.
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“No citizen will be victim of Brexit” he posted.
On #citizensrights I think we are very near to a satisfying solution. By guaranteeing the existing rights of EU citizen living in Britain & UK nationals on the continent alike. No citizen will be the victim of #Brexit #EPlenary #FutureOfEurope
— Guy Verhofstadt (@guyverhofstadt) March 13, 2018
Meanwhile, President of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker cautioned EU citizens to secure their rights and not “fall victim to Brexit” during the session.
Why it matters:
In December, negotiators agreed a deal which laid out a proposal for the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British nationals living on the continent.
Since then the EU has called for existing rules on freedom of movement and permanent residency, to apply until the end of the transition phase, in 31 December 2020.
During the meeting Juncker also warned UK MEP’s that they will come to “regret” their decision to exit the EU and the time will come “when you will regret your decision”. He stressed the “increasing urgency” to negotiate the UK’s withdrawal from the bloc within the time-frame.
Juncker added that the UK’s ties with the EU will “never be the same” again:
I would rather have preferred Britain not to have decided to leave the European Union, but anyone who leaves the European Union has to know, frankly, what this means,” he said.
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If you decide to jettison, leave behind, the common agreements and rules, then you have to accept that things cannot remain as they are.
He urged UK prime minister Theresa May to give “more clarity on how the UK sees its future relationship with the EU” and called for UK proposals on how to avoid a hard border in Northern Ireland.
He also repeated the union’s mantra that the UK can’t “cherry pick” a bespoke trade agreement. As he mentioned the UK’s departure date on 29 March 2019, Eurosceptic MEPs cheered.
At the same meeting Michel Barnier, the EU’s Brexit negotiator, warned that the UK has yet to face up to the “hard facts” of Brexit, as he underlined that Brussels will not grant “à la carte” access to the single market.
Meanwhile Eurosceptic former UKIP leader, Nigel Farage urged May to follow in Trump’s footsteps, by not giving into pressure from “unelected bullies” in formulating trade policies:
So please Mrs May at this summit next week, do what Trump has done, stand strong against the European Commission.
He stressed that May should snap up a deal with the US if the EU doesn’t pull through with a deal.
He also said that the UK should make a clean break from the bloc, dismissing May’s plans for a post-Brexit transition period, saying the UK voted “to leave this organisation”, the customs union and single market.
At a meeting in London on 6 March, attended by Verhofstadt, a spokesperson for May said that the “expectations of those moving to the UK” after Brexit day “will not be the same as those who arrived before our withdrawal.
The comments came after the UK government said EU nationals arriving in Britain during a post-Brexit transition period could apply for indefinite leave to stay in the country, but that their rights would be determined by British courts.