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Major issues still need to be addressed to secure equal and fair treatment for EU citizens in the UK after Brexit, stresses EP steering group.

The European Parliament’s Brexit Steering Group, chaired by Guy Verhofstadt (ALDE, BE), met today and issued the following statement:

 

“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. It is our 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 family reunification, 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, we insist that this cannot be limited to pensions only, but should include all benefits defined in EU legislation.

 

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

 

Background

 

For the European Parliament to approve the withdrawal agreement, the key principles and conditions in the resolution of 5 April, 2017 must be met. These principles were reiterated in another resolution, on the state of play of negotiations, voted on 3 October 2017. Any withdrawal agreement at the end of the UK-EU negotiations will need to win the approval of the European Parliament.