Commission says it will protect EU and UK citizens amid Brexit uncertainty

Written by Martin Banks on 9 April 2019 in News
News

The European Commission says it has taken several measures to protect EU citizens and UK nationals who are or have been living or working in another Member State.

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While it says it “remains committed” to concluding the Withdrawal Agreement, the executive on Tuesday admitted that “it is still possible” the UK will leave the EU this Friday at midnight without a deal.

The warning comes just ahead of an emergency summit of  EU leaders in Brussels on Wednesday where they will discuss the current Brexit impasse.

On Tuesday, UK Prime Minister Theresa May was in Berlin and Paris trying to win support for a short extension to the Brexit deadline.


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Ahead of her meetings with Angela Merkel and Emmanuel Macron, a Commission spokesman said, “As many EU and UK citizens have made their life choices based on rights related to free movement under EU law, a 'no-deal' withdrawal can have harsh consequences on their lives.”

To protect social security rights related to situations before the withdrawal date, the Commission has proposed an EU regulation, which has already been approved by the European Parliament and the Council.

In addition to the Regulation it has recommended that Member States use national, unilateral measures to, amongst other things, continue to export old-age pensions to persons residing in the UK and to address ongoing medical treatments.

The Commission has also published information for citizens on living, working and travelling in the EU and the UK.

“Not everything will be smooth, but we will try to mitigate the negative impact of a 'no-deal' Brexit. I believe that the Withdrawal Agreement remains the best possible outcome for everyone concerned, but the EU will put citizens first, whichever scenario occurs” Marianne Thyssen, EU Commissioner

Further comment came from Marianne Thyssen, EU commissioner for employment, social affairs, skills and labour mobility, who said: “A 'no-deal' is not the outcome we want, but it is a scenario we are preparing for. The millions of EU citizens who worked in the United Kingdom before the withdrawal will not lose these pension rights when retiring in the EU. Patients should be able to finalise ongoing medical treatment in the UK.”

She added, “Not everything will be smooth, but we will try to mitigate the negative impact of a “no-deal” Brexit. I believe that the Withdrawal Agreement remains the best possible outcome for everyone concerned, but the EU will put citizens first, whichever scenario occurs.”

Meanwhile, Theresa May’s Government will continue talks with the Labour party as Ministers led by Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington are expected to meet the Labour delegation led by Sir Keir Starmer, the Shadow Brexit Secretary.

Speaking last night, Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn said, “The exchanges with the Government have been serious, but our shadow cabinet expressed frustration that the Prime Minister has not yet moved off her red lines so we can reach a compromise,” adding, “The key issues that we must see real movement on to secure an agreement are a customs union with the EU, alignment with the single market and full dynamic alignment of workers’ rights, environmental protections and consumer standards.”

On Tuesday, there were UK media reports that the Government is reluctant to commit to a customs union with the EU, while advocating for an approach that would deliver the same benefits.

According to reports, May is also considering giving MPs a vote on whether to hold a second referendum on the Withdrawal Agreement in order to break the deadlock in talks.

About the author

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at The Parliament Magazine

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