President of European Parliament visits London: ‘Rights of EU citizens a red line’, and the way forward

On Thursday, 20 April, European Parliament President, Antonio Tajani met in London with ‘New Europeans‘ and other NGOs.

It was encouraging to hear from the President that the maintenance of rights of non-UK EU citizens and UK citizens in the EU-27 is a ‘red line’. Mr Tajani noted that, absent a satisfactory arrangement that ensures that their acquired rights will be maintained post-Brexit, the European Parliament will vote against an exit agreement.

However, the President’s framework accepts that the question of rights of non-UK EU citizens and UK citizens in the EU-27 is part and parcel of the exit negotiations, that its resolution will be tied to the conclusion of these negotiations. Moreover, a rejection of the exit agreement may lead to disorderly exit, which is surely the worst outcome for citizens of the Union. The guiding principle ought to be that rights of citizens of the Union should not be bartered away.

Thus, Dr. Ruvi Ziegler, an adviser to New Europeans and a Britain in Europe expert, called in the meeting for the adoption by the European Parliament of a motion drafted by New Europeans calling for parallel guarantees of rights of non-UK EU citizens and of UK citizens elsewhere in the EU irrespective of and disentangled from the negotiations between the EU-27 and the UK.

 


New Europeans is launching its Brussels office on Monday 24 April 2017 and will be seeking cross-party support for its motion (text below).

The European Parliament,

  • Noting the anxiety felt amongst citizens of other Member States residing in the UK and among UK citizens residing elsewhere in the Union, about their own and their families’ situation, in light of the outcome of the referendum held in the UK on 23 June 2016.
  • Celebrating the role of Union citizens in the democratic life of the Union and deeply concerned about the adverse effects of the UK’s EU Referendum on their ability to continue to enjoy their acquired rights as citizens of the Union, including the right to remain in the member states where they reside.
  • Believing that, in the Twenty-First century, it is unacceptable to treat individuals as ‘bargaining chips’ and that Union citizens’ rights should be guaranteed irrespective of the outcome of the overall negotiations between the UK and Union institutions.
  • Calls on the Commission to make proposals to the Council, which shall act by a qualified majority, for adoption of measures with a view to the maintenance of rights acquired by UK citizens residing elsewhere in the Union during the period when the UK had been a Member State of the Union

The language in the final bullet point is taken, verbatim, from Article 2 of the Protocol on Special Arrangements for Greenland, which was part of the ‘Treaty Amending, with regard to Greenland, the Treaties Establishing the European Communities‘ (13/3/1984)