Wednesday

14th Nov 2018

MEPs: We'll veto Brexit deal if citizens' rights not improved

  • Liberal leader Guy Verhofstadt (r) and centre-right leader Manfred Weber (c) both signatories of the critical letter (Photo: European Parliament)

The leaders of political groups, which together have a broad majority in the European Parliament, criticised the UK's offer on citizens' rights as a “damp squib” that risks “creating second-class citizenship”.

The MEPs said the rights of non-UK nationals need to be better protected after Brexit than the proposal now on the table, otherwise they might veto the deal.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

“The European Parliament will reserve its right to reject any agreement that treats EU citizens, regardless of their nationality, less favourably than they are at present,” the MEPs wrote in an open letter published on Sunday evening (9 July) on the Guardian website.

They also noted that they would not support any extension of the 30 March 2019 deadline for the Brexit talks because, otherwise, the UK would have to hold EU parliament elections two months later – something the MEPs called “simply unthinkable”.

The letter was authored by Guy Verhofstadt, the leader of the Liberal group (Alde) and the parliament's Brexit coordinator.

It was co-signed by the leaders of the centre-right European People's Party (EPP), Manfred Weber, the centre-left Socialists & Democrats, Gianni Pittella, the Greens, Ska Keller and Phillippe Lamberts, and the far-left GUE/NGL group, Gabi Zimmer.

Together, they represent 77 percent of the parliament's seats.

Three MEPs from the Brexit steering group also signed: Elmar Brok, Roberto Gualtieri and Danuta Huebner, who is also the chair of the parliament's constitutional affairs committee.

Notably absent from the signatories was anyone from the European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR), the third-largest group in the parliament that is dominated by the British Conservative party, and Poland's Law and Justice party (PiS).

The letter was published two weeks after the UK gave more details about citizens' rights.

UK prime minister Theresa May said the proposal would give more than 3 million EU citizens living in the UK “reassurance and certainty”.

“No families will be split up,” May promised.

Vague

But the MEPs in their letter said the proposal “would cast a dark cloud of vagueness and uncertainty over the lives of millions of Europeans”.

A lot it still unclear, they said.

“Will European students have to pay more – even after they have applied for the first post-Brexit academic year of 2019-2020? Will doctors enjoy continued and guaranteed recognition of their qualifications in the UK? Why are frontier workers, who work in the UK but live in the EU, not mentioned at all?”

The MEPs also took a jab at the UK for the proposal to have family members apply separately to acquire “settled status”.

In what seems like a reference to traditional UK criticism of the EU, the MEPs said that “Britain wants to become the new champion of red tape”.

The EU's chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, will meet with the UK side for a second round of talks next week.

On Monday, Bloomberg reported that more than a third of businesses want a so-called soft Brexit, with the UK staying in the EU single market and customs union, according to a poll of 2,400 companies.

In the survey, only 2 percent of British businesses said that they would find it acceptable if the UK left the EU without a deal.

Barnier sets price for hard Brexit

The EU Brexit negotiator warned that a customs union between the UK and EU will not be possible if the UK doesn't want to respect single market rules, and "no deal" would send the UK back to "a distant past".

May defends proposal on EU citizens' rights

“We want you to stay”, British leader Theresa May told EU nationals on Monday, but the UK's "settled status" plan lacked "ambition", the EU said.

Column / Brexit Briefing

May's call to compromise helps mask party disunity

In a speech on Tuesday, the UK prime minister is expected to urge Labour and other opposition parties to “come forward with your own views and ideas” on what post-Brexit Britain should look like.

News in Brief

  1. EU's Tusk is Poland's most trusted politician
  2. Finland prepares to step in for Romania on EU presidency
  3. Trump threatens tariffs on EU wine
  4. US defence chief backs Nato amid 'EU army' calls
  5. Italy defies EU deadline on changing budget
  6. Report: FBI looking into Brexiteers Farage and Banks
  7. Italian journalist unions protest 5MS 'whores' jibe
  8. Czech PM's son alleges kidnap plot against his father

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Knives out on all sides for draft Brexit deal
  2. Romania data chief defends forcing press to reveal sources
  3. EU to review animal welfare strategy
  4. Macron's 'European army': why is everyone talking about it?
  5. Merkel calls for 'real, true' EU army
  6. Italy defiant on budget on eve of EU deadline
  7. EU action on Hungary and Poland drowns in procedure
  8. EU unable to fully trace €1bn spent on refugees in Turkey

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  3. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  5. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  7. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  9. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  10. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  12. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us