UK given two weeks to make offer to ensure Brexit talks progress

MEPs say that major issues still need to be addressed to secure equal and fair treatment for EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

Brexit Photo credit: Press Association

By Martin Banks

Martin Banks is a senior reporter at the Parliament Magazine

10 Nov 2017

The warning comes after the latest meeting of Parliament’s Brexit steering group, chaired by ALDE group leader Guy Verhofstadt.

It met earlier this week today and, afterwards, issued a statement which read, “We don’t recognise reports suggesting that a deal on citizens' rights is almost finalised. There are still major issues that have to be resolved.

“Our most important concern is the UK proposals for settled status for EU citizens in the UK, including the administrative procedures as set out in a technical note published by the UK government yesterday.”


The group members have now set out a list of criteria that they say must be met in the coming weeks.

The statement said it is their “firm view that acquiring settled status must be an automatic process in the form of a simple declaration, not an application which introduces any kind of conditionality (for example a pro-active ‘criminality check’); must enable families to make one joint declaration, not separate declarations for each individual family member; must place the burden of proof on the UK authorities to challenge the declaration and this only on a case-by-case basis and in line with EU law; must be cost-free; is a system that can only enter into force after any transition period, if requested and agreed, has concluded. Before that, the freedom of movement applies.”

On the issue of family reunification, the steering group insisted that Parliament “will not accept any weakening” of existing rights that EU citizens currently enjoy with respect to family reunification, including both direct descendants and relatives of direct dependence in ascending line.

On the export of benefits, the MEPs insist “that this cannot be limited to pensions only, but should include all benefits defined in EU legislation.”

The statement added, “We insist that UK citizens currently living in the European Union continue to benefit from the freedom of movement after Brexit.”

The warning comes amid signs that the Brexit talks are set for further trouble after Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, on Friday set Britain a two week deadline to make sufficient progress in the Brexit talks and kickstart discussions on a future UK-EU trade deal.

The EU is refusing to talk trade or a possible transition deal until it judges enough progress has been made on the contentious issues of the Brexit bill, Ireland and citizens' rights, the three red lines for the EU.

UK Prime Minister Theresa May in her Florence speech promised the EU €20bn to cover Britain’s EU budget contributions until the end of the current financial period in 2020. 

But that has not satisfied Barnier, who demanded Britain explain exactly what it is willing to pay as the price for Brexit and that it made “real and sincere” progress on all three issues.

For the European Parliament to approve the withdrawal agreement, it says certain “key principles” must be met. Any withdrawal agreement at the end of the UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.

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