Brexit: Fears persist over citizens' rights

Written by Martin Banks on 8 December 2017 in News

Campaigners, including Greens/EFA group MEP Jean Lambert, have voiced fears that the issue of citizens’ rights will be sidelined in the Brexit talks.

Jean Lambert | Photo credit: European Parliament audiovisual

Greens/EFA group deputy Jean Lambert is among those who fear that one of the EU’s so-called red lines - citizens’ rights - will be “shunted” into phase two of the talks, rather than being settled now.

Campaigners have expressed fears that the future rights of the estimated three million EU citizens in the UK - and of 1.3 million British nationals in the EU - risk being forgotten.

They fear the EU is poised to weaken its stance on the issue at the make-or-break summit in Brussels on 14 December in order to keep negotiations moving between London and Brussels.


Lambert said, “It looks as if issues may be shunted into the second round of negotiations. The issue of family unification is crucial. We can’t have children born after Brexit with different legal status, that’s not going to be satisfactory.”

She said the ECJ “must have a role that runs through these people’s lives. We want to see these things cleared up in the first stage of the negotiations.

“I will be really worried if these things are taken off the table for now. I would like to see the EU being more robust on it now.”

Former Labour MP Roger Casale, who is heading a group campaigning to ensure that citizens’ rights are fully respected in the talks, told this website, “There is no such thing as a ‘good deal’ on citizens’ rights that can remove the uncertainty now from five million EU27 citizens in the UK and Britons in Europe.”

Casale, who was in Brussels on Thursday for talks on the issue with EU officials, added, “If the European Union really does care about the rights of citizens it should grant unilateral guarantees to Britons in the EU now and put trade talks on ice until the UK does the same for EU27 citizens in the UK.”

Elsewhere, British In Europe, an alliance of groups representing more than a million British citizens living in the EU, have written to EU leaders urging them to block Brexit negotiations from moving forward.

A spokesperson said, “We might be told we are closing in on a deal but not one that is good for the people who will have to live with it.”

The group also warned the issue could “get bumped into phase two of the negotiations, running the risk of being lost in the debate”.


About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter for the Parliament Magazine

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