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May’s offer on EU citizens rights meets with tepid response in Brussels

Friday, 23 June, 2017 - 18:33

Theresa May’s offer to guarantee the rights of EU citizens living in the UK after Brexit has been met with disappointment in Brussels, with the European Council President, Donald Tusk, saying it was “below our expectations” and risked “worsening the situation of citizens”. The statement came at the end of the first EU summit since the official start of the Brexit negotiations. On Thursday, May presented the UK’s offer to regularise the status of EU citizens who have been living in the UK for more than five years, entitling them to the same rights as UK citizens in terms of healthcare, benefits, education and pensions. EU citizens living in the UK for a shorter period of time will be entitled to settled status after five years. May also promised to simplify the process for granting permanent residency for EU citizens. May’s proposals were better received by Angela Merkel who called them a good beginning but not a “breakthrough”. May promised that on Monday, the UK Brexit Minister David Davis will present a more detailed proposal covering the remaining areas of contention between the two sides regarding citizens rights. These include the question of whether EU citizens in the UK will have their rights guaranteed by the European Court of Justice – as the EU demands, or by the British courts – as the UK wants. Other issues include the rights of people from outside the EU who are married to EU citizens living in the UK. At the summit, EU leaders also agreed on a procedure for selecting the new locations for the two EU agencies currently based in the UK that will have to move once Brexit takes place. The new headquarters for the European Medicines Agency and the European Banking Authority will be voted on by EU interior ministers at a General Affairs Council to be held in November. In other business, the Council decided to extend sanctions against Russia for another six months. The sanctions, which are mainly directed at Russian financial institutions, have been renewed every six months since mid-2014 in response to Russia’s annexation of Crimea and support for rebels in eastern Ukraine.


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