The group, the 3million, which was established after the ‘leave’ vote in last year’s referendum, presented a briefing paper to MEPs – including Guy Verhofstadt, the parliament’s Brexit coordinator – setting out their demands for a future in post-Brexit Britain.Although both Prime Minister Theresa May and the European Commission have made securing expats’ future a priority in Brexit negotiations, marked differences in approach have emerged between the two sides.
Separate agreement on citizens’ rights
Ahead of the meeting, Anne-Laure Donskoy, who co-chairs the group, said they wanted an “early, legally binding and separate agreement” on citizens’ rights, registration and voting rights.She said that EU expats’ rights “to work, to marry, to have access to health services and education, to build a business” were threatened and that these rights should be “guaranteed and preserved not just for the short or medium term, but permanently”.The briefing paper says, “We fundamentally disagree that an agreement on citizens’ rights should be negotiated under the same over-arching core principle for the rest of the negotiations that ‘nothing is agreed until everything is agreed’. This is because it unnecessarily prolongs the current, unacceptable uncertainty experienced by almost five million EU and UK nationals (living on the continent) for another two years at minimum.”
The group wants both sides to support an early, separate and legally binding agreement, which would preserve all citizens’ indivisible rights. “This should be ring-fenced from all other items, to ensure it will continue to stand even if there is no wider agreement, or if the negotiations fail or are delayed.”It also wants the European Parliament to adopt a separate resolution on citizens’ rights setting key principles and guidelines underpinning an agreement on this issue.