Donald Tusk, the European Council President, has called upon the United Kingdom to make a definitive response to the rights of the EU citizens once Brexit happens.
While speaking in Brussels, Tusk said that the EU needs outright guarantee even as 27 leaders supported the bloc’s Brexit guidelines.
Among the top priorities in their demands during Brexit negotiations first phase is the right of EU citizens to live, work and study in the UK.
The negotiations are scheduled to begin on 8 June once the UK election is done.
At the news conference attended by EU leaders with an exception of UK PM Theresa May, Mr. Tusk said that for weeks now, their British have constantly talked of wanting to have the matter handle quickly. He however was hard-lined, saying that they need “real guarantees” that non-UK citizens have the right to live in the country. “The same also applies to the Brits” all over the continent, he said.
It is estimated that the total number of UK and EU citizens living in foreign countries within the continent total 4.5 million.
Key points from the Guidelines
- Financial commitments – the talks will start by looking into any UK financial commitments to the EU as well as residence of the EU citizens.
- Trade issues – the talks are further widened with a look into trade agreement once the first talks have made commendable progress.
- Negotiate as a bloc- there will be no individual EU countries negotiating with the UK but rather will do so collectively.
- No cherry picking from bits of the single market
These guidelines were first proposed by Mr. Tusk in March and prioritize citizen residence, financial commitments and Irish Republic and Northern Ireland border as the top three topics of discussion in the separation talks.
Once these three have been settled its when talks of future relations can commence including trade deals.
Theresa May’s administration however thinks otherwise and pushes for parallel talks.
EU leaders have remained ardent on their position, and stressed that they are more united than ever. Chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said: “We are ready… we are together.”
Unified position on Brexit is more than skin deep
The remaining 27 EU countries understand the necessity to remain united at the Brexit negotiation table, making it hard for the UK to strike a favorable deal.
Of course the individual members have their own specific concerns. Poland considers mainly the rights of its citizens in the UK since they make the biggest percentage. But that’s not just it for they also want guarantee that UK will settle its divorce bill.
As at the moment, a lot of emphasis has been placed on unity as they had into the negotiations.
“We must not be punitive, but at the same time it’s clear that Europe knows how to defend its interests, and that Britain will have a weaker position in the future outside Europe, than it has today within Europe,” said French President François Hollande.
But Britain will most certainly not agree to pay a huge settlement bill. They may be advantaged by the fact that Europeans are likely united on paying the bill but do not have a consensus of the actual amount.
UK Brexit Secretary David Davis responded to the matter saying that it is his wish to have the negotiations concluded in goodwill. He expressed his understanding that these will be one of UK’s most complex negotiations.