Published: Tue, June 27, 2017
World Media | By June Phelps

Barnier: "More ambition, clarity and guarantees" needed from the UK's Brexit proposals


Perhaps most controversially, under the proposal, European Union nationals who marry their spouses after March 2019 will also lose their automatic right to bring their family members to the United Kingdom as is enshrined in European Union law.

But EU citizens would face similar restrictions as British nationals if they wanted foreign relatives to join them in Britain after it leaves the EU unless separate rules are negotiated, she added.

Last week, European Council President Donald Tusk said Mrs May's proposals for the post-Brexit status of EU citizens living in Britain were "below expectations".

Her plan, however, was met with jeers and heckles by opposition lawmakers in the House of Commons, while Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn described the pledge as "too little, too late".

The differences in position - both on rights and who enforces them - underline how tough these negotiations could be in the coming weeks, as the two sides try to thrash out a deal that will affect one million Britons living in the European Union and an estimated 3.2 million European Union citizens living in the UK.

Those who arrived less than five years before the cut-off date will be allowed to stay until they accrue the time necessary to apply for "settled status".

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In her statement, the Prime Minister said European Union nationals granted settled status would be treated "as if they were United Kingdom citizens for healthcare, benefits and pensions".

After five years, they too can apply for "settled status".

But the government has declined to set the cut-off date, offering a two-year window starting from March 29 this year - when the formal Brexit began - and saying the matter is one for the negotiations with the EU.

But "settled status would generally be lost if a person was absent from the United Kingdom for more than two years, unless they have strong ties here", the government added. "We want you to stay", she told parliament.

Despite receiving a frosty response when she outlined the proposals at the Brussels summit on Friday, the Prime Minister insisted the reaction from some individual leaders had been "very positive".

"Under these plans, no EU citizen now in the United Kingdom lawfully will be asked to leave at the point the United Kingdom leaves the EU", Mrs May told MPs in a Commons statement.

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European Parliament's Brexit Coordinator and the President of the Liberal and Democrat Group in the European Parliament Guy Verhofstadt, however, welcomed the proposal of the United Kingdom, assessing positively May's commitments.

"It is the start of a negotiation", he said, responding to criticism of the rights' offer from the EU.

The EU's chief negotiator Michel Barnier called for more "clarity and guarantees" on the United Kingdom proposals while Mayor of London Sadiq Khan labeled the plan as "half-baked".

"I believe it's a generous offer", she said, adding that it would provide "reassurance and certainty".

Britain has promised to streamline the application system for "settled status", after Europeans applying for permanent residency complained of an 85-page document requiring proof of employment and all travel out of the country for the past five years.

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