Britons Living in Europe Could Lose Right to Live in Another EU Country
Albanian Daily News
Published July 20, 2017
A British Union flag and an EU flag are seen flying outside the European commission headquarters in Brussels. Photograph: Francois Lenoir/ReutersBritish people living in the European Union could lose the right to live in another EU member state after Brexit, it emerged at the end of talks in Brussels.
British officials raised the issue with their European counterparts during three-and-a-half days of intense technical talks on Brexit. The EU made clear it would not move without a reciprocal offer for European nationals living in Britain that would allow them to move to another EU country and return to the UK.
The discussions underscore the uncertainty facing nearly 5 million people caught on the wrong side of the Brexit divide, although both the UK and the EU have made citizens' rights a top priority in Brexit negotiations.
Around 1.2 million British nationals living in the EU would be affected, meaning, for example, a British national currently living in Germany would be unable to move to France, Austria or any other EU member state after Brexit. The outcome could be seen as counter to the EU's stated aim of allowing citizens to live their lives "as if Brexit never happened".
Senior EU officials said they were ready to look at the issue, but the UK had to make a reciprocal offer to protect the 3.5m EU nationals living in the UK, to allow, for example, a German resident in Manchester to return to their home country for a few years and then resume life in the UK.
"We would start from the assumption that in order to maintain the right of EU citizens to move around the EU27 this would require the UK to reciprocate by allowing EU citizens to continue to moving around freely," a senior EU official said. "This is is a subject of negotiations."
The issue emerged during detailed talks on protecting citizens' rights, a politically sensitive issue that touches employment, healthcare to pension rights and education.
Although the Brexit secretary, David Davis, said he was encouraged by progress, the talks exposed a deep division over the European court of justice. The EU wants the ECJ to resolve any dispute over citizens' rights, while the British are adamant British courts should be the venue for a country no longer part of the EU.
Theresa May has vowed to take the UK out of ECJ jurisdiction and the EU's demands are seen as "judicial imperialism" by London.
British negotiators think it is "a big ask" to give EU nationals the right to take the British government to a foreign court, making clear that the issue will remain a dividing line until an EU summit in October.
The EU vowed to defend the role of the ECJ in protecting the rights of EU nationals. "This is not a political point we are making, it is a legal one," said the EU's chief negotiator, Michel Barnier. "Only the court can interpret EU law; it is not a choice, it is an obligation. We want our citizens to be protected by EU law."
The talks on citizens' rights revealed other divisions and questions:
Britain wants to run criminal record checks on EU nationals when they apply to stay in Britain, which differ from those allowed under EU law. EU negotiators said they needed more details.
The 1.2m British nationals in other EU countries should be able to get documents to prove their post-Brexit status, British negotiators have said, while the EU does not see this as a priority.
Britain wants to keep the European health insurance card, which entitles British travellers to free or low-cost state-provided healthcare in Europe. But it remains unclear whether the EU will agree to this.
The two sides did not strike any deals, but this was never expected during the first round of detailed discussions, where the main goal was to air differences and map out agreements.
(Source: The Guardian)