European Union says UK's offer for European Union citizens post Brexit not good enough

Pauline Gross
June 26, 2017

EU leaders warned Friday that Britain's plans to protect the rights of European citizens post-Brexit risked leaving them worse off, after Prime Minister Theresa May made what she insisted was a "fair" offer.

Extending sanctions against Russian Federation, commitment to Paris Climate Change Agreement and moving EU agencies based in London following Brexit were among the significant issues taken up by the Council, President Donald Tusk said in a joint news conference with the president of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the EU term president Malta's prime minister, Joseph Muscat.

And he vowed to secure the future of the EHIC programme, which means that all Brits and other European Union citizens get free healthcare wherever they are in Europe.

Ministers have not confirmed the exact cut-off date for eligibility but indicated that it would fall somewhere between March 29 2017, when the United Kingdom triggered Article 50, and Britain's actual leaving date.

But many expat groups in Britain criticised the proposals as being scant on detail and not promising the freedoms they now enjoy.

"You could say that this is actually something that should be taken for granted", Sigmar Gabriel said after talks with his French counterpart in Paris.

"That was a good beginning but - and I'm trying to word this very carefully - it was not a breakthrough", she said.

May however defended the proposal.

In slightly more domestic news, earlier Friday European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker called Britain's proposals to protect EU nationals in the United Kingdom after Brexit "not sufficient".

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Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn had his fair share of support (26 per cent), while Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson polled 13 per cent and Home Secretary Amber Rudd just two per cent.

Mrs May acknowledged there were "differences" between her proposals for settling the future rights of expats after Brexit and those put forward by the European Commission.

However, no cut-off date for the package has been specified by Downing Street and further details of the plans will not be released until Monday, June 26.

"We don't want to buy a pig in a poke", said Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel, calling May's opening "an extremely vague proposal for something which is incredibly complicated". A lot of European citizens are concerned and not covered by May's proposal.

May has already set up a clash with Brussels by refusing to allow the European Court of Justice to arbitrate any disputes over citizens' rights in Britain.

German Chancellor Angela Merkel called the plan a "good start", but Labour said it was "too little, too late". "But of course there are still many, many other questions".

Davis, who launched the Brexit talks with European Union negotiator Michel Barnier last week, also threw his support behind Prime Minister Theresa May, saying he took his share of the blame for advising her to hold an early election this month in which her Conservatives lost their parliamentary majority.

The fate of an estimated three million Europeans living in Britain and around one million Britons living elsewhere in the EU was thrown into doubt by Britain's vote to leave the bloc a year ago.

Juncker was asked if he knew what form of Brexit the government in London was now seeking, to which he replied: "No".

Other reports by GizPress

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