UK Prime Minister Theresa May's offer to EU citizens 'falls short'

Theresa May's offer to give EU citizens in the UK ‘settled status’ after Brexit has been described as being ‘far short of what citizens are entitled to’

10 July 2017, 8:13am
MEPs warn Theresa May that the EU legislature would ‘reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens less favourably than they are at present’
MEPs warn Theresa May that the EU legislature would ‘reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens less favourably than they are at present’
Theresa May has been accused of offering EU workers in the UK “second-class citizenship” in a stark warning from the European parliament that it would reject her “damp squib” opening offer on the Brexit negotiations.

The prime minister, who will on Monday attempt to relaunch her struggling tenure in Downing Street, was told that the EU legislature would “reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens less favourably than they are at present”.

In articles published across Europe, the European Parliament’s chief Brexit negotiator Guy Verhofstadt and eight other key figures said the Prime Minister’s proposals for the three million EU nationals that live in the UK fall short of both the EU proposals as well as the Vote Leave’s campaign pledges to “put citizens first”.

“It would,” Verhofstadt states, “cast a dark cloud of vagueness and uncertainty over the lives of millions of Europeans”.

Earlier this month, May offered those who arrive lawfully before Brexit the chance to build up the same rights to work, healthcare and benefits as UK citizens. But her proposal falls far short of the EU’s demand for its citizens living in the UK to maintain all EU rights in perpetuity, and the UK is not prepared to concede to the EU’s demand to allow the European court of justice to be the guarantor of those rights.

“In the EU proposal, British people and Europeans keep the same rights and the same level of protection they currently enjoy under European law,” he said. “The UK response to our proposal came three weeks later. It was a damp squib. The British government proposes that – the day after Brexit – Europeans obtain the status of ‘third country nationals’. These nationals would get fewer rights in the UK than British citizens are offered throughout the EU.”

The articles, jointly penned by Verhofstadt and the leaders of key groupings in the European Parliament, also said that the UK offer risks creating “a second class of citizenship”.

In strongly worded comments that will be read across the continent, Verhofstadt said: “The European Union has a common mission to extend, enhance and expand rights, not to reduce them. We will never endorse the retroactive removal of acquired rights.”