21 Apr 2017

The EU Keeps Firm Position Over Citizens’ Rights

There will be no Brexit deal if citizens’ rights are not guaranteed, according to the president of the European Parliament Antonio Tajani, who met with Theresa May yesterday. Tajani came to London to discuss the EU parliament’s position in the Brexit negotiations. He emphasized how important is to the institution he represents to keep the “same rights tomorrow as they have today” for both European and British citizens.

Tajani: we could veto the deal

The European parliament doesn’t have a leading role in the Brexit process but it has the right to veto the prepared deal. However, Tajani said that the meeting with the British Prime Minister has left him with positive feelings: “I want to be optimistic because the meeting with Theresa May today was a good meeting. On the principle, we have the same opinion on citizen’s rights”, he said to reporters after the conversation. Mr Tajani pointed out the pressing issue of clarifying the future for the expats spread across the continent, currently living in uncertainty: “The British citizens and the European citizens want to know the future. For this, I think we need work immediately and a lot.”

The snap elections – good for Brexit negotiations

The president of the European Parliament also expressed his support for Theresa May’s decision to call snap elections. According to him, the election will bring stability in the negotiations and their aftermath, guaranteeing that Brussels will deal with the same UK representatives for the next five years. “To have a new government before the beginning of the official negotiations, I think is good not only for the U.K. but also for us because we will have, for the next years, the same Prime Minister, the same ministers, the same negotiator” Tajani said to reporters after the meeting. However, he preferred to distance himself from inclining what the results might be, adding that the UK can return to the EU Club, if the voters change their intentions about Brexit. “If the U.K., after the election, wants to withdraw (Article 50), then the procedure is very clear,” he said. “If the U.K. wanted to stay, everybody would be in favour. I would be very happy.

EC also stays behind the expats

Meanwhile, in confirmation of Tajani’ position, a leaked document from the European Commission (EC) made clear that the EU leaders have no intentions of letting Britain easily escape from the long arm of the European jurisdiction. The hard-line approach is to protect the employment, pension and welfare rights of the three million EU citizens, living in the UK, and the Brits living in the EU. The document hasn’t received an official confirmation, however, indicating that Theresa May will have tough times negotiating legal independence from the European Court of Justice (ECJ) as she promised to the Brexiteers. Mrs May several times insisted that she will seek freedom of the European legal system as one of the key points in her Brexit-manifesto. According to analysts the new firm position of the EU is particularly challenging to the Prime Minister. It is reminiscent of her time as Home Secretary when she had opposed several ECJ decisions, which she had declared, are helping the immigrants abuse the right of free movement by getting into pretended marriages.

“Agreeing reciprocal guarantees to safeguard the status and rights derived from EU law at the date of withdrawal of EU and UK citizens, and their families, affected by the UK’s withdrawal from the union, will be the first priority for the negotiations,” is written in the document seen by Reuters.  In a comment the chairman of the House of Commons European Scrutiny Committee Sir William Cash said that this requirement will be “completely impossible” for Mrs May to agree to submit.  “The manner and depth of this authority would suggest that we are not leaving the EU at all,” he stated, adding: “From the day we leave (the EU) we cannot and will not be subject to the ECJ.”

The UK must meet its current EU obligations

According to Reuters, the documents also reveal that the European Commission will insist the UK fulfil all its financial obligation in already ongoing EU projects, even if that continues after the actual leaving of the Union. The document doesn’t contain an actual number but states that a “global amount,” which is to be specified later, in “a schedule of annual payments”. The leaked information triggered sharp reaction from Tory MP Peter Bone, who commented that EU is living in “cloud cuckoo land” and they should be one paying to the UK. “They have robbed the British people of £184 billion since we have gone into it, how dare they suggest that we owe them any money. We are not giving them any money back. They owe us money and they ought to cough up and stop trying to claim that we owe them money,” he said.

The EU27 leaders will meet on 29 April to finalise the guidelines for the coming negotiations. Before that, on 26 April Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the EC and the EC’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier are expected to visit London and meet with Theresa May. They would to like to discuss the coming UK election and its impact on the Brexit negotiations.