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Procedura : 2020/2505(RSP)
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CRE 14/01/2020 - 3
PV 08/10/2020 - 8.1
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Martedì 14 gennaio 2020 - Strasburgo Edizione rivista

3. Attuazione e monitoraggio delle disposizioni relative ai diritti dei cittadini nell'accordo di recesso (discussione)
Video degli interventi
Processo verbale

  Presidente. – L'ordine del giorno reca la discussione sulle dichiarazioni del Consiglio e della Commissione sull'attuazione e il monitoraggio delle disposizioni relative ai diritti dei cittadini nell'accordo di recesso (2020/2505(RSP)).


  Nikolina Brnjac, President-in-Office of the Council. – President, honourable Members, as we are about to see the Withdrawal Agreement enter into force, basically unchanged from its 2019 version, except for the provisions regarding Ireland, we should be pleased, in retrospect, with our decision not to accept a carve-out of the provisions on citizens’ rights, as many have requested.

Indeed, having done so would have led to a level of protection far weaker than we have at present, with part two of the agreement dealing with citizens’ rights fully embedded in the whole agreement and with various remedies foreseen should the UK not deliver adequately in implementing these provisions.

This does not mean that we should rest on our laurels and I’m grateful to the European Parliament for having scheduled this debate today.

I also welcome the draft resolution tabled as it lists a number of concerns regarding the preservation of citizens’ rights, the administrative procedure in relation to residents’ rights, the limited assistance offered to citizens in this respect or the effectiveness of the UK independent authority due to oversee the implementation of these provisions.

This does not necessarily mean that everything is rosy on the EU side. It is important, as you note in your resolution, to encourage the Member States to adopt a generous attitude regarding the rights of UK citizens having decided to settle in the European Union.

We should also insist that both the Commission and a UK independent authority are rigorous in their monitoring of the implementation of part two of the agreement.

There is also more that can be done regarding the awareness of citizens on both sides of the channel, however protective the provisions of the Withdrawal Agreement. They would be of little use to citizens, especially vulnerable ones, if they are not aware of them, nor of the administrative steps needed to benefit from them.

And certainly, Parliament can also play a role in reaching out to citizens and contributing to their information.

Of course all these provisions – even though their effect will last beyond the transition period – will not cover citizens who would consider settling at a later stage. Although we are well aware that the line of the UK Government is to put an end to the free movement of persons, we should make sure that the future relationship that will be negotiated shortly will be ambitious enough in terms of mobility.

This will have to be accompanied with the preservation of certain rights for the citizens concerned.

Let me conclude by noting the large degree of convergence that exists between your positions on citizens’ rights as developed in your various resolutions and the priorities of the Council. This is a clear illustration of the commonality of purposes of our two institutions as regards Brexit.

Our common efforts should help to ensure that the provision on citizens’ rights in the Withdrawal Agreement allows EU citizens and UK nationals, as well as their family members, to continue to live, work or study in their host countries, as they have chosen to do.


  Ursula von der Leyen, President of the Commission. – Mr President, last week I was in London and I had the opportunity to speak to students about the future of the relationship between the United Kingdom and the European Union. After I had finished the speech, as always the floor was opened to the students and the audience and the very first question that came was not about trade, it was not about financial services, it was not about security, as important as these topics are.

It was of course about citizens’ rights. And the same question came back time and again with different personal twists. One came from a young man who came from Benelux living in the UK who was of course worried about his future. Another came from a British lady who has an Italian husband and who was worried about his status, what’s going to happen with him. And while the questions may have been subtly different, the reason for asking them were always the same.

People want certainty about their lives and their future and certainty about the future of their loved ones. And I am speaking here about 3.5 million citizens in the UK who come from a European Union Member State, and about the roundabout one million British people living elsewhere in the European Union.

Now these are large numbers but behind each of these numbers are people with their very own personal stories. Some are citizens from another European Union country but they are born in the United Kingdom. Others have arrived later. Many have married, have children, have gone to university, have started their careers, and they work in the UK and respectively in the European Union. They teach children, they treat patients, they care for the elderly, they work in farms or factories, they have started their own businesses and provide a living to many more.

So whatever their own personal story is, they all have one thing in common, and that is they want to have peace of mind. They want to have a plan for their futures and the future of their families. And all they want is to feel at home in the place they call home.

Therefore, protecting these citizens’ rights has always been our top priority from the moment the referendum result became clear. Thanks to the excellent work of Michel Barnier and his negotiating team, the Withdrawal Agreement provides comprehensive guarantees for these citizens.

It gives them the protection and the certainty they need. It allows them to stay where they live today, under the same conditions, for as long as they want and without any discrimination based on their nationality. This Withdrawal Agreement and with what we have agreed on, puts clear obligations on the United Kingdom and on the European Union to safeguard these rights.

It is one thing is to put them on paper, another thing is to implement them. So once the House has ratified the Withdrawal Agreement our top priority will be to implement our shared obligations, both in letter and in spirit. And for me this is a legal issue with a moral imperative.

The good news is that the United Kingdom has already begun implementing

the European Union Settlement Scheme. To date, about 2.5 million European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom have already applied for residence status. Most of these people have now received proof of their right to remain.

This is good news. But you also know that there are cases where some have not and many more are yet to apply, and there is a number of concerns that have also been raised. There are the famous cases of the French bakers and the Polish chefs that shine a light on some of the issues. But, seriously, there are many other cases where people are confused or unable to apply for whatever reasons. Or others have received requests for more proof, despite having lived in the country for 40 years or more.

So, we are in close contact with the citizens and the UK authorities on these issues. We need to avoid any discrimination or added complexity during the application process. We need to ensure that all citizens – especially the most vulnerable – are fully supported throughout the process. And we need the guarantee that the Independent Monitoring Authority can act in full independence to deal with complaints. This is of utmost importance.

From our side, the Commission will keep a close and vigilant eye on the implementation. We are ready to help European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom to ensure they are properly informed and supported. And of course we will do the same when it comes to British citizens living in the European Union.

All these questions I have been speaking about I raised with Prime Minister Johnson last week when I visited London. We will closely cooperate with the United Kingdom to make sure that we can get this right and that we can solve any problems as swiftly as possible.

Finally, the good news is that there will be continuity for the European Union citizens living in the United Kingdom and vice versa for the British citizens living in the European Union at the end of the transition period. But, after the end of the transition period, the United Kingdom will be a third country. And Brexit will mean changes to those who will want to make their future life on either side of the Channel.

We will have to negotiate a new way forward, and we are getting ready to formulate the mandate for those negotiations ahead of 1 February. We have, as we have done in the past, also made in these negotiations citizens’ rights our main priority. And we will always negotiate in good faith to build a new comprehensive partnership with our British friends. As I said to those students in London, it is the good old story about old friends and new beginnings.



  Danuta Maria Hübner, on behalf of the PPE Group. – Mr President, in this House, throughout the Brexit process, we have had many meetings with EU citizens, including British nationals. We have listened to their stories and understood better the consequences of Brexit for their rights as European citizens. Their concerns have become ours.

In all its resolutions, the European Parliament dealt with citizens’ rights, but still today we see risks to the sustainability of commitments agreed in the withdrawal agreement – hence this new resolution. The lack of proper and full implementation of legal solutions on citizens’ rights would have a massive impact on people’s lives and their life choices. The implementation of the withdrawal agreement matters because it provides a minimum of legal certainty that people need.

We regret that in spite of the option presented in Article 18(4) of the withdrawal agreement, the UK has chosen to use the application approach for a settled status scheme. I regret, also, that only half the Member States seem to use the approach based on the declaration. We also deeply regret that the UK Government has announced its intention to end free movement of people under the future framework for cooperation. EU citizens, including British nationals, have greatly benefited from the free movement of people and I still hope that the British Government changes its mind on this issue. It will, further, be crucial that we find a way towards mutual recognition of qualifications, that it will be possible for citizens to participate in local elections, that there will be good cooperation in the field of family law on the basis of relevant provisions in international law and that potential regulatory divergence will not affect citizens’ rights.

I appreciate the assurances given to us by the UK Government with regard to the functioning of the independent monitoring authority. The European Parliament will nevertheless keep a watchful eye on the implementation process. As we have pointed out in our resolution, the shortened transition period means that there is less time to operationalise governance of the withdrawal agreement regarding citizens’ rights and that an awareness-raising campaign will also be a matter of priority.

Ultimately, the proper and full implementation of citizens’ rights would help to build the trust needed for successful negotiations on the future.


  Pedro Silva Pereira, on behalf of the S&D Group. – Mr President, our first duty as the European Parliament, elected directly by the European citizens, is to defend those we democratically represent. That explains why our top priority in terms of Brexit has always been citizens’ rights, not only the rights of EU citizens living in the UK, but also the rights of British citizens living all over the European Union. Listening to the serious concerns expressed by so many citizens and NGOs, we simply cannot ignore that people are extremely worried about the high degree of uncertainty and other damaging implications of Brexit in their lives and legitimate expectations. That is why we are here today to discuss and approve a political resolution tabled and supported by the leaders of many political groups in this Parliament and designed to convey a strong political message. The UK Government can do more and should do more to ensure full protection of citizens’ rights in the context of Brexit. We certainly acknowledge the efforts made on such a difficult issue, but the truth is that the EU settlement scheme currently in operation in the UK could easily be more user friendly and would largely benefit if additional assistance were provided to older and more vulnerable citizens.

On the other hand, as many applicants are only getting pre-settled status, it would be better to take this procedure as declaratory in nature and to ensure proper review by a truly independent authority. Moreover, a physical document would help to give additional legal certainty and a sense of certainty for the future, not only for citizens, but also for employers and landlords. We hope to get a positive response from the UK Government regarding citizens’ rights.


  Guy Verhofstadt, on behalf of the Renew Group. – Mr President, the first thing that I want to do is to thank the President of the Commission, Ms von der Leyen, and also Michel Barnier, naturally, for their strong and continued support on citizens’ rights.

I hope that this House, when we vote – I think it’s tomorrow we vote – on this resolution gives it a huge majority, a huge majority that gives us a mandate for the final discussions with the UK authorities, which will happen on Thursday. I have been invited by the Secretary of State, Mr Barclay, and by the new Minister for European Affairs, Mr Pincher. It’s important that this resolution has massive support so that it gives us strength on Thursday and Friday because there are still concerns that need to be addressed. If they are not addressed now, before the end of the month, they will be on the table before the end of the year. I cannot imagine that the European Parliament will agree, for example, on the free-trade agreement (FTA) without solving the problems and the concerns of the EU citizens and the UK citizens, including freedom of movement.

These concerns have already been mentioned by my two colleagues. First of all, the automatic recognition of citizens’ rights. There is a Tory Government and Tory governments always say that they want less bureaucracy. Well, OK, let’s make less bureaucracy and the best way to do it is automatic recognition so that you don’t need all this. The second is a physical document. Why is it necessary? The UK authorities are telling us that, ‘yes, but it’s not necessary – they have an email’. But can you imagine a case where a woman goes to see her parents on the continent, comes back and at the border they ask, ‘where is your email?’ – ‘I don’t have my email, there is no energy anymore in my battery’ – or maybe she deleted the mail, so she cannot enter the UK. We need a physical document. In a normal world, you have a document. That’s the second concern.

The third concern is the Independent Monitoring Authority. My proposal is simple: why not put a few representatives of the 3million organisation in the Independent Monitoring Authority? Then we are sure that both sides are there, so it solves the problem. These things need to be addressed and I hope that they will be on Thursday and Friday.

Maybe, to finish on a lighter note, I can ask Prime Minister Johnson for a little bit of flexibility. Maybe he can follow the Queen’s example – because yesterday the Queen gave Harry and Meghan a transition period to leave, so maybe some flexibility on Mr Johnson’s side could also be very useful.



  Philippe Lamberts, au nom du groupe Verts/ALE. – Monsieur le Président, on présente souvent l’Union européenne comme un vaste projet principalement économique, attaché à la promotion des intérêts des détenteurs de capitaux. C’est un peu vrai mais ce n’est pas que cela l’Union européenne et les trois millions de citoyens de l’Union européenne qui vivent au Royaume-Uni et les quelque 2 millions de Britanniques qui vivent dans l’Union européenne le savent bien. La liberté de circuler, la liberté de s’établir pour étudier, pour travailler, pour prendre sa retraite, une liberté octroyée à tous les citoyens de l’Union européenne, est probablement l’une des perles, l’une des réalisations les plus importantes de l’Union européenne. C’est évidemment cela que tous ces citoyens risquent de perdre avec le retrait désormais inéluctable du Royaume-Uni de l’Union européenne. En effet, ce Parlement et les négociateurs européens au premier rang desquels Michel Barnier, nous nous sommes employés à tout faire pour limiter au strict minimum les dégâts – parce que dégâts il y a – occasionnés par le retrait du Royaume-Uni de l’Union européenne. Je pense que ce qui a été mis dans l’accord de séparation est satisfaisant, mais il est vrai que nous avons un problème de confiance avec le Royaume-Uni: il est vrai que nous nous inquiétons des difficultés administratives qui sont mises en place ou de cette menace qui est écrite noir sur blanc dans la transposition en droit britannique de l’accord de séparation et qui prévoit la possibilité pour le gouvernement britannique de supprimer purement et simplement l’autorité indépendante qui veillera à l’application de l’accord de séparation en termes de respect des droits des citoyens. Plus inquiétantes encore, les déclarations de certains proches du ministère de l’intérieur britannique qui en viennent presque à présenter les citoyens européens résidant au Royaume-Uni comme des menaces à la sécurité de l’État. Mon message au gouvernement du Royaume-Uni est donc le suivant: si vraiment vous considérez l’Union européenne comme une puissance amie du Royaume-Uni, faites en sorte que par votre attitude vis-à-vis des citoyens européens, vous confirmiez tout simplement ce statut d’amis. Veillez à traiter les citoyens européens au Royaume-Uni comme vous souhaitez que les citoyens britanniques dans l’Union européenne soient traités.


  Gunnar Beck, on behalf of the ID Group. – Mr President, dear colleagues, especially those who are here for the last time, the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement is a salutary example of belated political realism. The resolution debated today accepts this verdict. Three points, however, deserve mention.

First, the agreement states that in future, the parties may decide no longer to accept national identity cards without a biometric identification chip. Such a rule is not unlawful, but there seems no obvious legal, economic or security reason for it. Data protection and privacy were once subjects of fierce political debates. Sadly in our rights-obsessed political climate today, such basic rights seem forgotten.

Second, the agreement freezes EU citizens’ rights as they are being interpreted on Brexit day, while assigning future interpretation to the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). The CJEU is, in effect, asked to develop two parallel bodies of case—law: one for citizens’ rights within the EU27 and another for the UK based on pre-Brexit EU law. How realistic, I ask, is this?

Finally, clause 18 of the resolution bemoans the UK Government’s intention to end free movement of persons next year. The motion claims that all four freedoms are interlinked and that any comprehensive EU-UK trade deal should be conditional on the UK agreeing to generous free movement of persons rules. This demand is against the UK’s and the EU’s own interests. Free trade agreements – indeed, most EU trade agreements – generally say nothing about free movement of persons. The EU in 2018 had a very large trade surplus with the UK. It’s therefore in the EU’s interests, just as Britain’s, to negotiate a comprehensive trade deal.

If this House is serious about citizens’ rights, then EU and UK citizens have a right that their economic interests be taken seriously by this House.


  Geoffrey Van Orden, on behalf of the ECR Group. – Mr President, I know that the new Commission President had a very good meeting with the British Prime Minister in London last week. They got on extremely well. The atmosphere was very positive. This is the right approach. Now we need to make rapid progress on the future relationship between Britain and the European Union, but first of all we have to get the Withdrawal Agreement out of the way.

As you know, the House of Commons passed by a majority of 99 votes the third reading of the Withdrawal Agreement last week. It has now moved to the House of Lords. It’s the duty of this House to give its assent to the Withdrawal Agreement so that it can take effect on 31 January, and I trust that will happen smoothly.

Of course, control of our own borders was a key factor in the vote to leave the European Union. I say to Ms Hübner we should bear that in mind. On the subject of citizens’ rights, this is an area where both the British Government and the EU have been more or less in agreement from the start. I like the first paragraph of the resolution: ‘believes that part two of the Withdrawal Agreement is fair and balanced’. The resolution, quite frankly, should stop there. I feel sure the resolution is designed to be helpful in spite of its misconceptions and some nit—picking. I sincerely hope so, but I am sure some role will be found for Mr Verhofstadt in the future. Historically, of course, no country equals the United Kingdom in terms of protecting the rights, freedoms and liberties of the individual.

Mr President, may I say the resolution focuses disproportionately on the future status of EU citizens in the EU but pays scant attention to British citizens in the remaining 27 countries of the European Union. One paragraph out of 22! The UK is in an advanced stage of preparation but hardly any of the remaining Member States have published plans as to how the system will work for British citizens resident in their countries. Just as the British authorities will look after those within their jurisdiction, I very much hope in future, in the absence of British MEPs, that this Parliament, along with national parliaments will be rigorous in ensuring that British citizens in EU countries are properly treated.


  Martin Schirdewan, im Namen der GUE/NGL-Fraktion. – Herr Präsident! Wir müssen heute über die Rechte derjenigen reden, die ihren Anteil am Wohlergehen und auch am Wohlstand in der britischen Gesellschaft leisten, sei es in der Pflege, in der Forschung oder auch als Selbständige. Auch wenn wir der Entscheidung Großbritanniens, die Europäische Union Ende dieses Monats zu verlassen, natürlich nicht im Wege stehen, so werden wir uns doch jedem Versuch in den Weg stellen müssen, die Bürgerinnen und Bürger, sowohl die britischen als auch die Bürgerinnen und Bürger der EU, dafür zahlen zu lassen. Diese Debatte ist deshalb notwendig geworden, weil es die begründete Sorge gibt, dass die Übereinkunft bezüglich der Bürgerrechte und der damit zusammenhängenden sozialen Rechte im Zuge des Scheidungsprozesses zwischen der Europäischen Union und Großbritannien nicht eins zu eins umgesetzt wird.

Dies betrifft vor allem die Regelung zum Aufenthaltsstatus, etwa von selbstständigen Dienstleistern, ebenso wie die Anwendbarkeit dieser Regelung für schutzbedürftige Personen oder Ältere.

Dennoch müssen wir auch jetzt schon an die zukünftige Beziehung zwischen der Europäischen Union und Großbritannien denken. Dabei geht es, wie wir alle wissen, um weit mehr als um ein Handelsabkommen. Es geht um die Regelung jedes einzelnen politischen, wirtschaftlichen, aber auch ökologischen Aspekts, der das Zusammenleben dies- und jenseits des Kanals zukünftig mitbestimmen wird.

Angesichts der Komplexität und der Vielzahl der politischen Aspekte, die von der Scheidung betroffen sind, ist doch allen klar, dass es nicht gelingen kann, etliche internationale Abkommen in nur elf Monaten miteinander auszuverhandeln. Wer etwas anderes behauptet, streut den Leuten wissentlich Sand in die Augen. Deshalb ist es notwendig, dass die Regierung von Boris Johnson meiner Ansicht nach rechtzeitig eine Verlängerung der Übergangsphase beantragt, damit eben die Bürgerrechte geschützt werden können und damit ihm und uns die Zeit gegeben wird, die es braucht – nicht mehr und nicht weniger. Geschieht dies nicht – das muss man hier auch noch mal ausdrücklich betonen –, steht noch immer die Gefahr eines harten Brexits mit all seinen negativen Konsequenzen im Raum.

Meine Fraktion hat sich in den zurückliegenden Jahren immer dafür eingesetzt, den Friedensprozess in Nordirland zu sichern und die sozialen Rechte der Betroffenen zu schützen. Das werden wir auch in Zukunft tun. Es darf zu keiner Senkung von Standards kommen, weil die Regierung in Großbritannien eventuell auf die schlechte Idee kommt, dass sich mit einem Dumpingwettbewerb wirtschaftliche Wettbewerbsvorteile erschleichen lassen. Das ist nicht hinnehmbar, weder in sozialen Fragen noch in der Steuerpolitik, weder in ökologischen Fragen noch beim Verbraucherschutz.

Abschließend möchte ich die Gelegenheit dieser Debatte im Namen meiner Fraktion nutzen, den britischen Kolleginnen und Kollegen zu danken, mit denen wir in der Vergangenheit konstruktiv für ein besseres Europa gearbeitet und auch gestritten haben. Ihr werdet uns fehlen!


  Alexandra Lesley Phillips (NI). – Mr President, the UK has opened its EU settlement scheme. We’ve made plain now for three years that those who have made Britain their home should have the right to remain on equal terms with all of those who live in my welcoming and wonderful nation, but not with super rights: no freedom of movement, fairness not favouritism. In elevating Europeans to the top of the pile, what you are suggesting is that the Africans, the Asians, the Americans and the Antipodeans who also call the UK home are somehow second—class citizens and that is something that my nation will not abide. Now I’m actually quite reassured listening to what’s been a constructive debate so far today, but I do want to suggest other politicians here who I’ve heard previously become sanctimonious and sobbing and scaremongering about the future rights of EU citizens that Britain is a kind, welcoming and open country. Do not give misinformation to people and make them fearful that they will not have residency. Let’s work together because we are going to become an independent nation, with an independent immigration policy and we are prepared to work with you to make sure that everybody is protected.



  Esteban González Pons (PPE). – Mr President, I want to speak in English because I want to be heard in English. British people must know that despite Brexit, despite all the things that happened during these last four years, they will always be welcome in the European Union because Europe is not about where you come from; it’s about where you want to go. Countries can be separated; families cannot. Today, there is more than one million Britons living in other EU countries – lots of them in my own country, in Spain. I want to address them directly today. Many of you have built your lives here, in Europe. Many of you have married here. Some of you have children that were born here. We are neighbours. Most of all we are friends. We are relatives. There is something that we cannot and will not forget. That is why I want to tell you: no matter what happens after 31 January, you will always belong to Europe, and as long as it’s your wish to stay with us, the European Union will always be your home. So from the bottom of my heart, I won’t say goodbye, I won’t say see you soon, I’ll only say: stay with us, the European Union is your home.





  Jude Kirton-Darling (S&D). – Madam President, in the Committee on Petitions, we’ve heard the voices of citizens from across Europe desperate about what will happen to their rights, their lives, their jobs, their families. Most of these citizens – whether EU27 nationals in the UK or UK citizens in the rest of the EU for longer than 15 years – had no voice or vote in the decision that most acutely affects their lives. They are the children of this great continental peace project, taking up the dreams of the original founders of these institutions and building lives based on the common rights that we share. We have, above all, a moral duty towards those who had no vote and are being further disenfranchised. We have consistently stated that guaranteeing citizens’ rights is a red line for any Brexit deal. We must stick to that. We know the outstanding problems and we have to be brave and see action before we vote on that deal in a few weeks.


  Caroline Voaden (Renew). – Madam President, Emmanuelle is a teacher. She has taught her beautiful language to thousands of teenagers over 20 years of work in British schools in my constituency. She has paid her taxes, married a British man and has children who are British.

Recently she filled in an 85-page form to apply for settled status, giving her permission to stay in a country she chose to make her home, where she has worked, paid her taxes and volunteered in her community, and she was initially refused settled status. Securing the rights of the 3 million EU 27 citizens in the UK is a fundamental issue.

This is not about freedom of movement. This is about securing their right to call it their home, mutual recognition of professional qualifications is an absolute must going forward.

There is no logical reason why the UK Government can’t use a declaratory process to give this status with a suitable accompanying physical document and guaranteeing the continued independent monitoring of this process. By failing to do this our government is shaming our country. And doing it properly will encourage the EU Member States to reciprocate generously with British citizens living in the EU Member States.

Mr Johnson, if you want a close, respectful working relationship with the EU after 31 January, why don’t you start by respecting the rights of the 3 million and avoiding the possibility of us having another Windrush generation?


(The speaker declined to take a blue card question from Geoffrey Van Orden)


  Christian Allard (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I am one of the EU citizens, an EU national who has been asked to apply for this settled status. I lived in Scotland for more than 35 years. I came because of freedom of movement.

I don’t understand how we ended up there. This UK settled scheme is not fit for purpose. How can this Parliament protect its own citizens, the three million EU nationals like me living in the UK?

Let me remind you that this issue was one of the EU red lines for any agreement. We learnt today whether the European Court of Justice will be the ultimate arbiter and that the UK courts will have to comply. How much is this promise worth, particularly if it expires after eight years? We see what’s happening with the Court with this week. I have my doubts. I’m very, very worried of what’s going to happen next.

The UK settlement scheme is not fit for purpose. I won’t apply to be denied my right to live in my own home. The application process must be scrapped and our rights must be automatically protected.

As for Scotland, the people living in Scotland made it very clear: Scotland must remain in the EU. Ce n’est qu’un au revoir, nous nous retrouverons.


  President. – Mr Allard, Mr Van Orden is going to try again to ask a question. Will you accept a question from Mr Van Orden? Non? Merci beaucoup. If you refuse a third time I give up, but let’s see what happens. I am in a jolly mood, so let’s listen to Mr Van Orden’s point of information.


I worry when you applaud me!


  Geoffrey Van Orden (ECR). – Madam President, thank you for your indulgence. I just want to say to the last two colleagues that have spoken: there are 2.6 million people who have applied for settled status. Only five – only five – have been refused, on grounds of criminality.


  Christian Allard (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I will respond to it, because we heard that before that most people who have applied have managed to have settled status. Forty-seven per cent of the people who applied have been denied settled status and need to reapply.

If you apply for something and it is refused, of course, it is refused: all those people have been refused settled status. This is not on. Go back to London and tell Boris Johnson.


  Hermann Tertsch (ECR). – Señora presidenta, con respecto al Brexit, la verdad es que un poquito más de tolerancia por parte de cierta gente quizá hubiera mantenido a los británicos dentro de la Unión Europea. Quizá este tipo de matonismo explica muchas cosas.

Con el Brexit, el 31 de enero se cumple la voluntad del pueblo británico. Esta decisión británica debería haber llevado a la Unión Europea a una reflexión autocrítica, y ha sido al contrario. En vez de debatir las causas se atacó furiosamente a quien se va.

Nosotros lamentamos el Brexit. Los británicos tienen dos grandes virtudes: el coraje y el amor a la libertad. Las necesitamos aquí, desde dentro, los que hacemos frente a las hegemonías, a las tendencias hegemónicas ideológicas y los sueños federalistas contra las naciones.

En España viven 250 000 británicos, en el Reino Unido 180 000 españoles. Los derechos de unos y de otros han de ser garantizados por igual. Por eso, por tanto, tenemos muchas razones para ser exquisitos con la reciprocidad. Las relaciones con Londres parecen ser más fáciles desde las capitales europeas que desde Bruselas, porque desde Bruselas parece haber un espíritu de revancha que lo dificulta todo.


  Sira Rego (GUE/NGL). – Señora presidenta, sabemos que el próximo 31 de enero se producirá la salida del Reino Unido de la Unión Europea. Por supuesto, respetamos la decisión democrática del pueblo británico, pero en España creemos que sigue habiendo incógnitas que debemos abordar. Como sabrán, el caso de Gibraltar tiene una singularidad. Hablamos de la situación de los más de 13 000 trabajadores transfronterizos que cada día cruzan la valla. Sus políticas neoliberales han convertido al Campo de Gibraltar en una de las zonas más empobrecidas de Europa. Se trata de un problema estructural, que genera un paro del 27 % que, en el caso de los más jóvenes, alcanza el 70 %. Y aunque el artículo 24 del acuerdo de salida supone algún avance respecto a la situación, no resuelve ni concreta ninguna medida que garantice que las personas trabajadoras desplazadas no pierdan derechos como las prestaciones por desempleo o incluso las pensiones. Con este acuerdo ya han garantizado los beneficios de las élites económicas. Ahora nosotras reclamamos su firme compromiso para que nuestros trabajadores y nuestras trabajadoras no se quedan atrás.


  Ann Widdecombe (NI). – Madam President, I’d like to focus please on paragraph 18 of the document, which says that the Parliament regrets that the EU has announced the principle of free movement will end.

I have to say very clearly that the ending of free movement was a massive factor in the British public’s decision to leave the EU. It was one of the biggest driving forces. And yet there appears to be within this Parliament today political myopia towards that. You’re actually trying to tell Britain that we should not have an application process, it should have just been the declaratory. We shouldn’t dare to ask for proof in order to back up statements in an application.

The British people expect the British Government to end free movement and to do it in a way which is effective, not merely nominal. And the sooner that this Parliament wakes up to that, the sooner we will actually get the right sort of dialogue.

(The speaker agreed to take a blue-card question under Rule 171(8))


  Sophia in 't Veld (Renew), blue-card question. – Ms Widdecombe, I hear you say, ‘the British people want this or that’, but isn’t it true that only 43% of the people voted for your political agenda and it’s only because of your electoral system that Mr Johnson has a majority of seats in parliament? The majority of the British people actually did not vote for a Brexit party. Isn’t that true, Ms Widdecombe?



  Ann Widdecombe (NI), blue-card answer. – 17.4 million people, in the biggest democratic turnout in British history, voted to leave. We ended up in the European elections as the single biggest party in this Parliament. Why? Why did Boris Johnson get such a massive majority in the last election? Because his basic promise was ‘Get Brexit Done’.

(Applause from certain quarters)


  Paulo Rangel (PPE). – Senhora Presidente, ao Conselho e também à Comissão, e nomeadamente ao Sr. Michel Barnier, queria dizer o seguinte: Portugal, o país que eu aqui represento, tem a mais velha aliança do mundo, em termos de Tratado ainda vigente, com o Reino Unido, que é de 1386 e foi invocada várias vezes ao longo do séc. XX, estando, portanto, totalmente em vigor.

Poucos países lamentarão tanto a saída do Reino Unido como nós, mas também poucos desejarão tanto que os laços se mantenham o mais próximos possível, o mais estreitos possível entre o Reino Unido e a União Europeia. E por isso devo dizer que a situação dos cidadãos é para nós decisiva e que ainda há muito a fazer. E devo também aqui criticar o Governo britânico, porque às vezes parece que a União Europeia está mais preocupada com a situação dos britânicos no continente europeu do que o próprio Governo britânico.

E por isso queria apelar ao Governo do Senhor Johnson para que ponha rapidamente em aplicação todas as disposições acordadas de forma a que os cidadãos de um e de outro lado do Canal possam viver numa firme e sã cooperação e amizade.


  Claude Moraes (S&D). – Madam President, as Michel Barnier very well knows, both the EU and the UK worked very hard on the settlement scheme. It was a shared moral and legal responsibility. But we are here because this resolution fires more than one warning shot and people are concerned. That’s why the Commission President, when she asked for questions, heard the concerns of people on citizens’ rights. Why? I give you one example: the Prime Minister, just recently, in his decision to revise the Withdrawal Agreement Bill to delegate the powers of the Independent Monitoring Authority (people talk about Windrush), which is responsible for overseeing UK policies towards EU citizens, to other bodies. Instead of strengthening the independent body, given the history of our immigration and nationality system, given the injustices, given the shared moral and legal responsibility, this is the direction we were moving in.

Let’s be clear: these are genuine concerns of EU citizens and I say to the Council, we have genuine concerns of UK citizens in the rest of the European Union. If we don’t get this right, this will be a deep scar and continuing injustice that will define what happens in the future agreements. Of course it will be for many years to come. So when people talk about the physical document or they talk about the declaratory system, they’re not talking about details – they’re talking about a system that may create injustice that would go on for years, that would have no independent resolution and that would be part of the jurisprudence and moral narrative that is built. That is why Michel Barnier and others made citizens’ rights so important in the first place, and that is why this resolution fires the warning shot, which must be heard.


  Pascal Durand (Renew). – Madame la Présidente, juste un mot pour dire la raison pour laquelle cette résolution est aussi importante.

J’avais le sentiment, comme un grand nombre de mes collègues avant cette intervention d’aujourd’hui, de savoir que la question des citoyens devait être prioritaire et au cœur des négociations qui viennent. Je voulais que M. Michel Barnier, dont je sais le travail qu’il a déjà fait, ait conscience que le Parlement sera derrière lui, de manière unanime, pour rappeler qu’il n’y aura pas d’accord possible dans le futur si on n’intègre pas le droit des citoyens. Je suis plus que jamais persuadé de ce que je dis maintenant, de la nécessité de cette résolution et de la nécessité que nous la votions très largement. Je trouve honteux que les représentants de l’extrême-droite britannique viennent aujourd’hui, après tous les mensonges qu’ils ont prononcés pour obtenir une victoire scandaleuse du Brexit, quémander un accord commercial avec l’Union européenne, tout en ne respectant pas les droits des citoyens! Et je leur dis clairement en face: il n’y aura pas d’accord si vous ne respectez pas le droit des gens; c’est une règle que ce Parlement vous imposera de gré ou de force.


  Terry Reintke (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, this is probably going to be the most difficult speech that I’m going to give as a Member of this Parliament. I ran to be an MEP to fight for more rights for citizens in the European Union. And now millions of European citizens are going to lose rights, and there is absolutely no way for me to talk this positive in any way. But I would like to end – and we are approaching the Brexit date – with two positive messages.

The first one is that all EU citizens in the UK have to be absolutely sure about the fact that there are dozens and hundreds of MEPs working here in this Parliament to keep this your Parliament as well. We will work tirelessly to defend your rights here in this Parliament.

And the second one, and this goes out to all the people in the UK who are heartbroken right now. And I know that even with this movement that is unique in European history, it has not been possible to put this decision back to the people.

But these demonstrations and all the signs and all the tweets and all your votes there were not in vain. You built something absolutely beautiful over the past years and this is the largest pro-European citizens’ movement that we have seen, and we will build on that. And trust me, one day I will see British MEPs being re-elected to this Chamber.



  Carlo Fidanza (ECR). – Signora Presidente, onorevoli colleghi, con buona pace di politici e commentatori mainstream, il popolo britannico ha una volta di più espresso la sua volontà. Può piacere o no – a noi dispiace – ma si chiama democrazia.

Ora siamo tutti chiamati a costruire una nuova e positiva cooperazione tra l'Unione europea e il Regno Unito: la tutela dei diritti dei cittadini dell'UE residenti nel Regno Unito è certamente uno degli aspetti più sensibili, ma dobbiamo riconoscere che si stanno facendo passi avanti positivi, anche se certamente bisogna migliorare le procedure burocratiche per consentire, a chi ne ha diritto, di fare per tempo la richiesta di residenza permanente.

Nel Regno Unito vivono circa 700 000 italiani, moltissimi dei quali sono giovani di recente emigrazione; a loro non dobbiamo soltanto garantire la tutela dei diritti di permanenza ma dobbiamo restituire la speranza di poter tornare a casa in Italia e costruirsi lì una nuova vita: anche questo è un loro diritto fondamentale.


  Jeroen Lenaers (PPE). – Madam President, more than three million European citizens in the UK were told by Boris Johnson and Michael Gove that nothing would change: they would get the automatic right to remain and they would be treated no less favourably than before Brexit.

They heard our colleague Daniel Hannan, who is not here today, say that it was irresponsible to scare EU nationals in the UK by hinting that their status might change after Brexit. And we even heard from Nigel Farage, saying that they could stay and enjoy the same rights as UK citizens because, he said, to row back on that would class you as a banana republic.

Yet here we are today. Automatic rights and favourable treatment have quickly transformed into talk of deportations and a hostile environment. The British Government seems to have learned absolutely nothing from the Windrush scandal. And a system is put in place that will probably never reach all the citizens that need it and, by its design, puts many vulnerable citizens at risk of losing rights.

The consequence is uncertainty and anxiety for EU citizens in the UK. Because, regardless of Mr Van Orden’s semantic point before, many people have already experienced loss of their rights.

If the UK wants to become a banana republic, of course that is its choice after Brexit. But those three million citizens in the UK are our responsibility now. And we need to stand up for them and make sure that they will not be the biggest victims of this Brexit.

This has been the Parliament’s consistent position ever since the referendum and it is now the time to make crystal clear how serious we are about that.


  Agnes Jongerius (S&D). – Voorzitter, 31 januari nadert met rasse schreden. Dan gaan de Britten ons verlaten en in januari 2021 moet de scheiding rond zijn. Hopelijk zijn er dan afspraken over de toekomstige relatie, maar mijn zorgen bij deze scheiding gaan over mensen, over de werknemers die een grote prijs betalen bij deze scheiding.

Zowel de scheiding als de toekomstige relatie moeten sociaal zijn. Sociale standaarden moeten we overeind houden. Wij willen geen Singapore aan de Theems voor onze deur. Het Verenigd Koninkrijk moet ook zijn sociale verplichtingen blijven nakomen, zoals de uitkering van pensioenen, ook aan EU-burgers die daaraan hebben bijgedragen. Onze toekomstige relatie mag niet ten koste gaan van de arbeidsomstandigheden van Britse en Europese burgers. De brexit is geen excuus voor een race naar beneden, maar ik moet zeggen: ik houd mijn hart vast.


  Billy Kelleher (Renew). – Madam President, just to say at the outset, I’m speaking primarily in the context of the island of Ireland and Irish citizens living on the island of Ireland and also UK citizens living on the island of Ireland.

In that context, I think we have to accept that we can’t negotiate or compromise on citizens’ rights. We can compromise on financial services, on agricultural products, on trade and commerce, but the very essence of the European Union and the very essence of the Irish Republic is citizens’ rights, and we have to ensure they are upheld and maintained.

We have a common travel area between the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland and the Republic. But, Mr Barnier, what I need to ensure is that when the UK becomes a third country, that citizens’ rights are protected and maintained. Very simple examples: the mutual recognition of qualifications, for example, could have profound implications on the island of Ireland, people unable to work in one jurisdiction on the island.

So, for all these reasons, we have to ensure that citizens’ rights are an integral part of this Withdrawal Agreement and the future relationship. There can be no compromises on people’s rights and entitlements.


  Scott Ainslie (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, as a councillor in south London I’ve seen first hand the UK Government’s cruel treatment of the Windrush generation, who came to our shores to help keep Britain great. I have seen these people denied citizenship. People who have lived in the UK for their entire lives suddenly find themselves denied work, homes and access to health care. Instead of scrapping the policies which have driven these gross injustices, this UK Government is working to expose those of the three million EU citizens in the UK who fall through the cracks to exactly the same broken, heartless system. One million of these EU citizens live in my constituency of London.

I am their MEP and I refuse to sit back while their rights are torn up and they are plunged into imminent danger. We can’t trust this British Government to protect citizens’ rights, so I plead with all MEPs who are lucky enough to remain in this Chamber for another four years – please, do not stop fighting for the rights of EU citizens in the UK and British citizens in your countries. Help us hold our own reckless government to account.



  Bogusław Liberadzki (S&D). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Ostatnie słowa premiera Plenkovicia zabrzmiały następująco: „zostańmy zjednoczeni – remain united”. Potem wystąpienia Rady, Komisji, grup politycznych pokazały, że jesteśmy zjednoczeni, czyli pierwszą troską byli ludzie, mieszkańcy, obywatele Unii Europejskiej mieszkający w Wielkiej Brytanii i Brytyjczycy mieszkający na terenie Unii Europejskiej. To jest również 1 milion Polaków. Mówiła też o tym pani przewodnicząca Ursula von der Leyen, wspominając o sprawie polskiego kucharza. Pozostaje nam zjednoczonych 440 milionów obywateli Unii Europejskiej. Ja bym chciał bardzo prosić o to, żebyśmy niezależnie od tej walki o interesy pamiętali o tych 440 milionach obywateli Unii Europejskiej. Ja chcę też pamiętać o 38 milionach obywateli mieszkających w Polsce. Zatem w tym procesie rozwodowym to my, jako Unia Europejska, jesteśmy jednak silniejszą stroną. Wykorzystajmy tę przewagę.


  Sophia in 't Veld (Renew). – Madam President, one question of course is if the arrangements are going to be adequate, but another question is how it will be implemented and do we trust the Johnson government to do that properly? I have to say that the signs so far are no reason for confidence. And if I hear the sounds coming out of the Brexit corner of this House, I am really incredibly worried because it’s not warm and welcoming, as they say.

I’ve been asking myself who benefits if we strip five million people of their rights? What is the purpose of leaving five million citizens in limbo? Why do they have to be penalised? What is their crime? And the point is: there is no purpose, there is no reason, nobody benefits. It’s a stupid vindictive campaign against people who have done nothing wrong, who didn’t even have a vote.

Now, no democracy should treat its citizens this way. No government has the right to just remove citizens’ rights or to retroactively impose new requirements, because citizenship is a right. It is not a privilege that can be removed at a whim, at the simple stroke of a pen. So we’ll stand up for all five million EU citizens.


(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Robert Rowland)


  President. – I am sorry, Mr Rowland, you have been refused.

Ms Widdecombe is waving her blue card, but Madam, you have already had the floor so I will move immediately to the next speaker on my list which is Ms Dowding for one minute.


  Gina Dowding (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, to put this debate in context today, the latest poll in the UK says that the majority of UK voters would prefer to remain in the European Union by 52% to 48% – the very same margin that won the Brexit referendum three years ago but is now reversed.

With over 3 million EU citizens in the UK, thousands of Europeans who made my constituency in the north-west of England their home, who are valued by their employers and neighbours and friends, we absolutely need to ensure that citizens’ rights are properly protected and people are treated fairly and lawfully.

Right now, critical issues are arising for citizens who are currently applying for settled status. Reports by lawyers indicate that, despite the UK government claiming that the process should take one to four days, some people are waiting months, leaving them without essential status documentation and rendering them unable to get jobs or rent a home.

This is not a demonstration of a system offering kindness and consideration. We call upon everyone here in the European Parliament to ensure that the UK Government upholds its commitments to protect EU citizens’ rights. Because that is also what will surely determine the reciprocal arrangement by the UK for UK citizens in the EU.



  Richard Corbett (S&D). – Madam President, this Parliament is right to debate this today ahead of its vote in two weeks’ time on the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement. It’s right to do so because from the very start of this process, the Conservative Government has made things difficult for citizens of other EU countries in Britain. First it used them as bargaining chips in the negotiations, and now it is unwilling to provide a system that gives them full guarantees. Let me take just one example: the refusal to give a physical document. That seems designed to make it difficult for citizens to prove their status to prospective employers or to landlords. It seems designed to make life difficult for them. And now, Boris Johnson has an increased majority, won, let us recall, on only 43% of the vote. Won despite 53% voting for parties offering a new referendum on Brexit. But he will use this majority to harden his Brexit. We have already seen him put in British law a refusal to extend the negotiating period beyond a year. The UK Government wants the shortest possible transition period, making it impossible, frankly, to solve the plethora of problems that Brexit will throw up, this included. Instead, the UK Government must listen to this Parliament and remember that the European Parliament also needs to approve the Withdrawal Agreement and, above all, it should use the transition period to reflect again on the question of freedom of movement and let another generation enjoy the rights that our generation had the privilege to have.

(The speaker declined a blue-card question from Robert Rowland)


  Lucy Nethsingha (Renew). – Madam President, the UK joined the European Community before I was born. For 47 years, EU citizens have been confident of their rights in the UK.

A friend of mine who moved to the UK 40 years ago thought she would never have to choose between her birth country and the UK. Her rights have been changed hugely by Brexit, and that is a very different situation from all those who moved to the UK from the rest of the world. My friend married, brought up her children, divorced, worked for decades as a chaplain supporting the most vulnerable in her community. Now in her late 70s she is razor sharp and fully aware of the impact Brexit has on her and her rights.

But there are many like her, elderly women who moved to the UK with their husbands over 40 years ago, who are not so able. Many who have dementia or other health issues, which make it even harder to prove their right to remain – just as importantly their rights to access critical services such as health and social care.

The current application process is not easy, particularly for those who are unaccustomed to filling in online forms. The information that only a tiny proportion are refused is yet another example of why so many do not trust the Conservatives. Millions have applied and not been granted settled status. They remain in legal limbo with status neither granted nor refused and their rights not guaranteed.

We fear for another Windrush scandal, and the sick and the vulnerable will be most at risk.


  Ellie Chowns (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I say to the House: this debate reminds us that Brexit will not be done on 31 January. It’s not a ready-meal as Mr Johnson would have us believe. It’s a complex dish that’s never been cooked before, has no recipe, two chefs in different kitchens, it’ll cost us a fortune and it risks giving us all indigestion for many years to come.

I jest, but citizens’ rights are no laughing matter. As we have heard in today’s debates there are real problems with the EU settlement scheme in the UK. Unreasonable demands for additional evidence, lack of support for vulnerable people, threats of deportation, the risk of another Windrush scandal on an even bigger scale and erosion of the independent monitoring authority. These must be addressed.

It’s a bitter irony that Members of this European Parliament will have more of a say over the future UK-EU relationship than members of Parliament in the UK. Because Boris Johnson has removed any capacity for the UK parliament to have a say over negotiations or powers of scrutiny.

Our UK political system is broken. The challenges of the next 11 months are enormous. There’s much to negotiate, little time, the risks of no deal remain high. In the UK, I and my colleagues will be doing everything we can to fix our failing democracy and scrutinise our government’s actions.

Colleagues, please stand with us, together let us defend our shared European values, standards and citizens’ rights.



  President. – Ms Chowns, Mr Rowland is on his third attempt at a blue-card question. Will you accept?


  Ellie Chowns (Verts/ALE). – Madam President, I see no reason why I should give further airtime to the childish bigotry and behaviour of the Brexit Party.

(The speaker declined a blue-card question from Robert Rowland)


  President. – Mr Rowland, I think that is a ‘no’.


  Luis Garicano (Renew). – Madam President, I, like some of my colleagues previously, want to draw the attention of Mr Barnier to the settled status issue and the physical proof. I’ve interacted several times with Spanish citizens in the UK. I’ve gone to London, to Oxford, to several places to see them. They tell me that the system is unnecessarily cruel and that it leads to a lot of uncertainty. The basic issue is that they get a PDF by email, which they can print as a PDF, which anybody could fake, which says that they have been granted settled status. That is all. They don’t get any card they can use when they travel. They don’t get any card that they can use when they go to work. They don’t know if the next time they come to the UK, somebody might not find their status. There is a very easy solution to that, which is a card with your photo which they could get, like you get in the US when you’re a permanent resident. Our citizens are being subjected to an unnecessarily cruel system and I think that it should be a priority in negotiating with the UK authorities that, as our resolution says in point 10, this physical proof should exist and be given via a certain and simple process.


  Sheila Ritchie (Renew). – Madam President, the big issue today breaks into two parts: the rights of EU citizens in the United Kingdom and the rights of British citizens in the EU 27 countries. But the underlying problem is the same: right—wing, dictatorial, nationalistic populism.

Notwithstanding Mr Van Orden’s fine words, we fear a bonfire of our human rights. We Europeans in Britain will fight tooth and nail to protect those whose status our Home Office threatens.

My postbag is crammed with pleas from Brits desperate not to lose their European rights. You have the power to protect them, to protect us. Please do not require a quid pro quo but be generous to us. I – to paraphrase Socrates – am not only a citizen of Scotland and Britain, but of Europe and the world. And I don’t want to lose any of those identities.



  President. – Ms Ritchie, Mr Rowland is requesting a question to you. Will you accept?


  Sheila Ritchie (Renew). – I refer to Ms Chowns’ response.

(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Robert Rowland)


  President. – I am sorry, Mr Rowland, but you have been refused again.


  Irina Von Wiese (Renew). – Madam President, I am one of three million EU citizens who were denied the vote in the 2016 referendum. I now have a British passport, but it cost me nearly GBP 1 500.

Many simply cannot pay this fee, even if they qualify. This deliberate tax on voting is part of the UK Government’s hostile environment for unwanted residents. I have long called on our government to lower the fee for becoming British.

But cost is only one hurdle. Losing EU citizenship is another. EU members should allow UK residents to retain their original citizenship, whether they become British during the transition period or after. It is crucial for them to know that they will not lose their rights as EU citizens.

Finally, I call on the EU to create an associate EU citizenship for those UK nationals who, like many of my constituents, wish to remain close to our European neighbours and continue to enjoy the freedoms under the EU Treaty.

This is good for the UK, for UK citizens, it is good for the EU, who will benefit from inward investment, and it is good for the continuation of a friendly relationship we so urgently need.

(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Robert Rowland)


  President. – It’s another ‘no’. I’m sure it’s not personal, but the lady says ‘no’.


Catch-the-eye procedure


  Seán Kelly (PPE). – Madam President, whether we like the first-past-the-post system or not, that is the system in the United Kingdom, and with the motto ‘get Brexit done’, Boris Johnson won an overwhelming majority. Brexit will be done in 17 days’ time. No country will regret it more than my country, Ireland. We have a shared history, we are very close neighbours, we get on better now than ever before, and we have very close economic ties. So I would like to thank all the MEPs from the United Kingdom who’ve been great friends of ours for many, many years in the European Parliament. Reality, though, must be accepted by everybody, so we must move on now to the next stage and it should be about ‘get the free trade agreement (FTA) done’. That means goodwill on all sides, and as Guy Verhofstadt said, unless citizens’ rights are properly addressed, it is hard to see how Parliament could accept an FTA. So that means that we sit down in a mature way, forget about the sound bites and get the FTA done properly. That will bring results.


  Julie Ward (S&D). – Madam President, I and millions of British and European citizens are about to have many of our rights ripped away from us as a result of a highly flawed poor—quality democratic process subject to foreign interference, misinformation and even illegality that saw a shameful narrowing of the franchise worthy of a tin-pot dictatorship rather than a mature Western democracy. This means that the three groups of people who are most impacted by Brexit had no say in their future. I’m speaking of all the young people whose lives will be limited in opportunity, not to mention the child refugees that the Conservatives refused to consider. Then there’s millions of EU27 citizens who live, study, work and pay into the tax economy in the UK, and British citizens in the EU, including the elderly, who may find themselves isolated, without healthcare and social protection. We can never legislate for the changing complexities of individual family life. This is a future Windrush waiting to happen.

And finally, a word about freedom of movement. As things stand, it looks as if a tin of meat will have more rights than a human being as it crosses the border between the EU and the UK, so shame on the Brexiteers for reducing us to dead meat.


  President. – Madam, Mr Rowland would like to ask you a question. Will you accept?


  Julie Ward (S&D). – Madam President, I see no purpose in giving these people any right to speak here when they don’t turn up to the committees to do their actual job of work. Let’s see them in the committees first. Let’s see them actually earning their money, rather than being in here spreading hate and division.

(The speaker declined to take a blue-card question from Robert Rowland)


  Barbara Ann Gibson (Renew). – Madam President, I rise to speak on citizens’ rights, on behalf of citizens who are losing important rights that they’ve relied upon for decades. Promises were made. People changed their homes, changed their lives, got married, had children, made plans for the future, and now because of self—serving politicians and a broken electoral system, those promises are being broken. Now citizens who live, work, study, pay taxes and are deeply embedded in their communities are being treated as outsiders. They’re being forced to prove where they were and what they were doing for a matter of years when they were never supposed to save those documents. They’re living with uncertainty. This is wrong. No one is standing up for their rights. This Parliament is uniquely able to send an unmistakable message to the UK Government, to the Council and the Commission. Please send the message that the European Parliament stands up for all its citizens.


  Joachim Stanisław Brudziński (ECR). – Pani Przewodnicząca! Szanowni Państwo! Chciałoby się poprosić pana Barniera, aby dyskutując z rządem Wielkiej Brytanii, nie kierował się emocjami, które panują zarówno po lewej, jak i po prawej stronie sali. Gdybyśmy mieli traktat o wyjściu Wielkiej Brytanii z Unii Europejskiej pisać w oparciu o panujące tu emocje i padające tu niepotrzebne słowa, to ten milion moich rodaków, o których wspominał pan poseł Liberadzki, Polaków budujących dzisiaj potęgę ekonomiczną Anglii nie chciałby wracać. Dla mnie jako przedstawiciela rządu polskiego, kiedy wielokrotnie rozmawiałem z moimi partnerami w Wielkiej Brytanii, nie było większej satysfakcji niż usłyszeć z ust moich rodaków posiadających prawa do wykonywania różnych zawodów, nie tylko kucharzy, ale również policjantów: „my chcemy wrócić do Polski”. Zdajemy jednak sobie sprawę, że nie tylko ten bez mała milion moich rodaków, ale również pozostałe miliony innych obywateli Unii Europejskiej w Wielkiej Brytanii zostaną. I dlatego trzeba kierować się tylko i wyłącznie zdrowym rozsądkiem i spokojem, a nie złymi emocjami. I na koniec panu Verhofstadtowi chciałem tylko powiedzieć, że książę Harry i księżna Megan wybrali jednak Kanadę, a nie Unię Europejską.


  João Ferreira (GUE/NGL). – Senhora Presidente, o acordo de saída alcançado entre a União Europeia e o Reino Unido não nos descansa no que toca aos direitos dos cidadãos dos Estados-Membros que vivem, trabalham e estudam no Reino Unido, e bem assim os cidadãos do Reino Unido que vivem e trabalham nos Estados—Membros, sejam aqueles que o fazem já hoje, nalguns casos há muitos anos, sejam aqueles que o pretendam vir a fazer.

A aplicação transitória do acervo da União Europeia não nos descansa porque o próprio acervo da União Europeia é insuficiente no que toca a esses direitos. Lembramo-nos bem da interpretação e da clarificação que foi oferecida ao Senhor Cameron, à época Primeiro—Ministro britânico, aquando do referendo.

Consideramos, por isso, que é necessário aprofundar e melhorar salvaguardas no que toca aos direitos dos trabalhadores e outros direitos sociais, incluindo o direito de residência, o direito a um tratamento não discriminatório, o direito de acesso aos serviços públicos, de saúde e de educação, a portabilidade dos benefícios em termos de segurança social, o direito à reunificação familiar e o reconhecimento mútuo das qualificações académicas e profissionais, apenas para referir alguns exemplos, seja isto no plano da discussão que vai prosseguir entre a União Europeia e o Reino Unido, seja também no plano da necessária discussão e das negociações bilaterais entre cada um dos Estados—Membros e o Reino Unido para o estabelecimento de um quadro de relações bilaterais futuras mutuamente vantajoso.


(End of catch-the-eye procedure)


  Michel Barnier, Chef de la task-force pour les relations avec le Royaume-Uni. – Madame la Présidente, Madame la Ministre Brnjac, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, devant votre assemblée et au-delà, j’ai toujours tenu un langage de vérité sur les conséquences innombrables du Brexit dans tous les domaines. Vous pouvez me donner acte de ce langage de vérité et nous savons bien, Mesdames et Messieurs, que parmi toutes les raisons du Brexit, celles qui ont motivé les brexiteurs eux-mêmes, il y en a deux fondamentales. D’abord, retrouver la capacité de diverger sur les règles sociales, environnementales, fiscales qui sont au cœur même du marché unique européen en tant qu’écosystème. Ensuite, cela a été rappelé avec beaucoup de clarté tout à l’heure, c’est la suppression de la liberté de circulation des hommes et des femmes, qui est au cœur même du projet européen depuis le début.

Voilà la volonté à laquelle nous avons à faire face et cela a des conséquences considérables pour l’avenir. Cela a été dit par plusieurs d’entre vous et nous en parlerons dans les futures négociations avec des conséquences concrètes, s’agissant des différentes suppressions, à partir de la fin de la période de transition, le 31 décembre de cette année, sur le plan de l’économie, des qualifications professionnelles ou des capacités d’installation en matière de sécurité. Personne des deux côtés – je dis bien des deux côtés, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés – ne doit sous-estimer les conséquences directes de la suppression de la liberté de circulation, qui est au cœur du Brexit. Cela pour la future négociation qui va commencer au début du mois de mars.

Pour l’instant, nous parlons des droits des citoyens, qui ont été la priorité de votre Parlement et du négociateur européen qui s’exprime devant vous et je veux vous en remercier. Cela a été aussi la priorité de tous les États membres que vous représentez. Je veux moi aussi remercier Guy Verhofstadt et tous vos collègues pour cette résolution extrêmement claire, qui vous est soumise demain, et qui exprime bien votre vigilance et votre solidarité à l’égard de tous les citoyens concernés par les conséquences directes du Brexit. Je pense que Guy Verhofstadt pourra s’appuyer sur ce vote, que je souhaite le plus clair possible, dans les entretiens qu’il aura cette semaine à Londres.

Comme l’a évoqué tout à l’heure notre présidente Ursula von der Leyen, les citoyens ont besoin de certitudes quant à leur avenir et à l’avenir de leur famille. Ils ont besoin de savoir ce que le Brexit signifie pour eux dans la vie quotidienne. Objectivement, je pense que l’accord de retrait que vous avez sur votre table fournit ces certitudes pour les citoyens britanniques établis dans l’un des 27 États membres et les droits qu’ils auront acquis avant la fin de la période de transition, c’est-à-dire avant la fin de l’année qui vient de commencer. Ils pourront ainsi continuer à vivre leur vie comme avant dans leur pays de résidence et c’est évidemment le cas pour près de 3 millions et demi de citoyens européens qui sont établis au Royaume-Uni et qui participent à l’économie et aux progrès du Royaume-Uni. Tous ces citoyens doivent pouvoir continuer à vivre, à étudier, à travailler, à percevoir des allocations ou encore à faire venir leur famille, et ce pour la durée de leur vie.

Voilà ce qui est dans le traité et nous parlons bien d’un traité avec toute la force juridique qui s’y attache, dès l’instant où il est ratifié de part et d’autre. Nous devons veiller maintenant à la bonne exécution de ces droits et nous n’accepterons aucune demi-mesure et aucune forme de discrimination déguisée. Puisque ma responsabilité et celle de mon équipe est de veiller, sous l’autorité de la présidente de la Commission et des commissaires, à la bonne exécution de cet accord de retrait après sa ratification, j’aurais évidemment aussi souvent que vous le souhaiterez, Mesdames et Messieurs les députés, à venir faire rapport devant le Parlement du déroulement de la bonne exécution de ce traité. Nous continuerons à défendre les intérêts de nos citoyens, et je veux à cet égard remercier pour leur engagement les 27 ambassades de nos pays membres de l’Union à Londres, qui travaillent avec la Commission en prodiguant leur aide et leurs conseils.

So we will continue to defend the interests of our citizens. And we will do everything in our power to ensure the full implementation of the Withdrawal Agreement. The Commission will do its utmost to ensure that the rights of one million British citizens living in the 27 Member States are guaranteed, that each and every one of them is properly informed and supported and we will watch closely to ensure that the UK Government does the same for the 3.5 million EU citizens residing in the UK.

Indeed, the early implementation of the EU settlement scheme by the UK has already led to the identification of a series of concerns, raised in particular by citizens’ organisations, but also today by many of you. As the personal case of Emmanuelle mentioned by Caroline Voaden of this House. The Commission will be particularly alert to EU citizens encountering difficulties in obtaining the new residents status.

We expect the UK to help EU citizens to meet administrative requirements, as well as to accept requests failing to meet the deadline for good reasons. We are already in regular contact with our UK counterparts on these issues. And I have held a number of constructive exchanges with Stephen Barclay, the UK Secretary of State for Exiting the EU on this matter.

I have, and I will continue to insist in particular on the importance of the UK putting in place a strong independent monitoring authority, mentioned by Claude Moraes a few minutes ago, an authority that must be able to act rapidly and fairly when faced with complaints from Union citizens and their family.

Let me just conclude with a few words on the bigger picture regarding this agreement that has now been approved by the House of Commons and will be submitted to you for your approval on 29 January.

In addition to citizens’ rights, there are many, many other topics where we must remain vigilant included in this withdrawal agreement. And I am thinking in particular about the protocol on Ireland and Northern Ireland, which guarantees an integrated single market but also preserves the whole island economy and prevents the return of a hard border.

I just want to say that the implementation of this protocol foresees checks and controls for goods entering the island of Ireland. I look forward to a constructive cooperation with the UK authorities to ensure that all the provisions set out in this agreement are respected and made operational.



  Nikolina Brnjac, President-in-Office of the Council. – Madam President, while we might welcome that we are soon to move to another, more positive, step in the Brexit process, we will have to remain vigilant as regards the preservation of citizens’ rights, be it during the transition period or under any future relationship with the United Kingdom.

The vigilance will rely on careful monitoring of how part two of the Withdrawal Agreement will be implemented in the United Kingdom, as well as in the EU—27 Member States, so that the life choices made by citizens and their family members on the basis of free movement are protected. We will therefore count on your cooperation in this respect as well.

Thank you very much once again for your attention.


  President. – I have received one motion for a resolution tabled in accordance with Rule 132(2) of the Rules of Procedure.

The debate is closed.

The vote will take place on Wednesday, 15 January 2020.

Written statements (Rule 171)


  Carmen Avram (S&D), în scris. – Ieșirea Marii Britanii din Uniunea Europeană va aduce schimbări radicale, multe la care, probabil, nici măcar nu ne așteptăm. Singurele pe care nu ni le putem permite sub nicio formă sunt cele referitoare la respectarea drepturilor celor 3 milioane de cetățeni europeni care se află acum pe teritoriul Regatului Unit. Comunitatea cu cea mai mare migrație din ultimii doi ani a fost cea românească, ajunsă astăzi la peste 400 000 de cetățeni, prima ca pondere în Londra, și a doua la nivel național, după polonezi.

Comisia trebuie să se asigure că acești oameni nu vor suferi discriminări în procesul de selectare a angajaților, că nu vor fi refuzate împrumuturile guvernamentale acordate azi studenților, că nu le vor fi majorate taxele în universități și că nu li se va îngrădi dreptul de a lucra în Marea Britanie după absolvire. În ultimele decenii, comunitatea provenită din restul Uniunii a contribuit masiv la dezvoltarea Marii Britanii, inclusiv la bugetul țării. Pentru toți acești oameni, anularea acestor drepturi ar fi o nedreptate, iar pentru Marea Britanie, o pierdere atât umană, cât și economică.


  Robert Biedroń (S&D), na piśmie. – To naprawdę trudny czas dla nas wszystkich. Po 47 latach Zjednoczone Królestwo opuszcza swoją europejską rodzinę w wyniku decyzji opartej na populizmie, politycznych rozgrywkach i dezinformacji obywateli. Decyzja o wystąpieniu z UE Zjednoczonego Królestwa – w sposób tak chaotyczny i nieuregulowany – wpłynie na losy zarówno 2,37 mln obywateli europejskich mieszkających na wyspach brytyjskich, jak i 1,2 mln Brytyjczyków żyjących w krajach UE. Dla nich kolejne miesiące czy nawet lata upłyną pod znakiem niepewności i obaw o przyszłość. W Zjednoczonym Królestwie mieszka również ponad milion Polaków, dlatego czuję się w moralnym obowiązku spytać o ich los. Ludzie zasługują na konkretne zapewnienie, że ich prawa będą chronione.

„System osiedleńczy dla obywateli UE” powinien uwzględniać osoby, które nie są biegłe w korzystaniu z narzędzi cyfrowych. Z kolei system tzw. „wstępnego ustalania osiedlenia” powinien mieć charakter deklaratoryjny i przewidywać właściwą weryfikację decyzji przez niezależny organ. Dla zwiększenia poczucia pewności prawnej obywateli UE kluczowe wreszcie będzie ustalenie jednolitego wzoru dokumentu potwierdzającego prawo pobytu w Zjednoczonym Królestwie. Wyjście Zjednoczonego Królestwa z UE nie może oznaczać zerwania więzi. Mając na względzie dobro naszych obywateli, wszyscy musimy zadbać, żeby relacje między Zjednoczonym Królestwem a Unią nadal były spójne, a granica pomimo brexitu nie była odczuwalna.


  Robert Hajšel (S&D), písomne. – Nastavenie vzťahov medzi Európskou úniou a Spojeným kráľovstvom Veľkej Británie a Severného Írska po brexite sa odrazí na úrovni práv takmer troch miliónov Európanov žijúcich v Británii a viac ako milióna Britov nachádzajúcich sa v EÚ. Na britských ostrovoch pracuje, podniká, študuje, alebo jednoducho žije aj viac ako 70 tisíc slovenských občanov a mnohí z nich pretrvávajú v neistote, aký osud ich na obdobie po brexite čaká. Mnohí Slováci, ale aj Poliaci sa už z Británie vrátili domov. Preto sa musíme snažiť zabezpečiť, aby sa aj po odchode Londýna z EÚ podarilo zachovať čo najvyššiu úroveň základných občianskych práv, najmä pokiaľ ide o voľný pohyb osôb, čo v praxi znamená možnosť aj naďalej žiť, pracovať, podnikať alebo študovať, či už na ostrovoch alebo na kontinente. Som presvedčený, že najmä britské úrady mohli doteraz prejaviť viac ústretovosti v procese povinnej registrácie občanov zo štátov EÚ, najmä pokiaľ ide o transparentnosť a jasné pravidlá. Ale ani na strane našich členských štátoch nie sme stopercentní a musíme sa snažiť poskytnúť našim občanom kvalitné informácie a britským občanom umožniť, aby ich proces registrácie u nás bol čo najmenej byrokratický.


  Henna Virkkunen (PPE), kirjallinen. – Euroopan parlamentti on läpi Ison-Britannian ja EU:n erosopimusneuvotteluiden pitänyt esillä Euroopan kansalaisten oikeuksia. Parlamentin keskeisiin vaatimuksiin on kuulunut sekä Isossa-Britanniassa oleskelevien EU-kansalaisten että jäljelle jäävissä 27 jäsenmaassa asuvien Ison—Britannian kansalaisten oikeuksien takaaminen muutoksen keskellä. Saavutettu erosopimus on näiltä osin vähintään tyydyttävä. EU-kansalaiset ja Ison-Britannian kansalaiset voivat edelleen oleskella ja liikkua sopimuskumppanien alueella siirtymäkauden aikana. Myös laaja joukko muita kansalaisten oikeuksia ja vapauksia säilyy puolin ja toisin ennallaan. EU:n ja Ison-Britannian tulevan suhteen määrittelevän sopimuksen neuvottelemiseen on erittäin vähän aikaa. Työstä tulee vaikeaa, mutta siinä on välttämätöntä onnistua. Kansalaisten oikeudet on turvattu vasta hetkeksi, mutta tulevaisuus on monelta osin auki. Se luo epävarmuutta tulevasta miljoonille eurooppalaisille. Iso-Britannia on jo ilmoittanut, että henkilöiden vapaata liikkuvuutta ei aiota soveltaa ainakaan nykyisessä laajuudessa. Pidän erityisen tärkeänä päätöslauselman kirjausta, jonka mukaan mahdolliseen sopimukseen EU:n ja Ison-Britannian tulevasta suhteesta olisi sisällyttävä kunnianhimoisia määräyksiä henkilöiden liikkuvuudesta. Meidän on pyrittävä siihen, että Ison-Britannian EU-erosta aiheutuu mahdollisimman vähän esteitä ihmisten mahdollisuuksiin hakeutua jatkossakin työhön ja opiskelemaan yli rajojen. Oikeus vapaaseen liikkuvuuteen on erottamaton osa sisämarkkinavapauksia ja kansalaisten oikeuksia.


(The sitting was suspended at 13.21)



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