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Britain in Europe think tank responds to Prime Minister's 'fair and serious' offer


The Britain in Europe think tank at Brunel University London and the New Europeans Citizenship Unit in Brussels today published a new report in response to the Prime Minister’s offer on rights for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU.

The report by Brunel Law School’s Dr Dimitrios Giannoulopoulos and the University of Reading’s Dr Ruvi Ziegler makes the case for unilateral guarantees rather than reciprocal agreements to secure citizens’ rights.

It follows a one-year on-going campaign by New Europeans to secure unilateral guarantees for EU citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU, led by Roger Casale, CEO, New Europeans, and Samia Badani, Head of Campaigns and Stakeholder Engagement.

Dr Giannoulopoulos and colleagues continue to meet with European Chief Negotiator for Brexit Michel Barnier's team from the European Commission, President Tajani of the European Parliament and Didier Seeuws and his team from the European Council, as well as Ministers and officials from  the UK Home Office and the Department for Exiting the EU.

The purpose of these meetings is to find an immediate solution to the predicament of the 5 million EU citizens (including 1.6 m UK citizens in the UK) whose lives have been placed in limbo as a result of Britain's vote to leave the EU.

The report, The rights of EU27 citizens in the UK and UK citizens in the EU27: A response to Theresa May’s ‘fair and serious’ offer, outlines the shortcomings in the Prime Minister’s offer and explores the problems with reciprocal deal making.

The Prime Minster has told EU leaders her aim was ‘to provide as much certainty as possible to the three million EU citizens currently living in Britain’, pledging that ‘no EU citizen currently in the UK lawfully will be asked to leave the country at the point that the UK leaves the EU’.

The government’s paper on ‘safeguarding the position of EU citizens living in the UK and UK nationals living in the EU’ attempted to reinforce this point, by noting that the government will put EU27 citizens first, and ‘do all [they] can to provide reassurance to the EU citizens who have made the UK their home, and likewise for UK nationals who have done the same in countries across the EU.’

Dr Giannoulopoulos argues that the government’s proposed solution – which was met with widespread negative reactions by EU citizens - in fact achieved the opposite result.

He concludes that the UK government’s proposals do not go much further than a simple restatement of existing immigration rules, which already give EU27 citizens the right to permanent residence if they have been exercising treaty rights for five years.

“May offers to provide protection to those who least need it – those who already qualify on the basis of the ‘five-year’ criterion, and have the documentation to prove it  – while failing to provide any reassurance to those who need it the most,” notes Dr Giannoulopoulos.

He concludes that the EU should not “follow the UK Government down the path of reduced protection for the rights of the millions of people affected by Brexit; rather, it should adopt a strict approach whereby failure by the UK to guarantee sufficiently (in practice, for life) the rights of EU27 citizens in the UK should bar transition to the second phase of the Brexit negotiations. The recognition of the rights of EU27 citizens is a precondition for the start of the negotiations per se.”

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Reported by:

Sarah Cox, Media Relations