Published On: Wed, Aug 9th, 2017

Hypocrites! David Davis accuses EU of failing to match British offer on citizens' rights


The leading eurosceptic said eurocrats’ controversial plans to restrict the free movement rights of British expats after Brexit did not fit with the lofty sermons on equality emanating from Brussels.

EU officials and MEPs have consistently tried to take the high ground on citizens’ rights, loudly preaching that they want to guarantee the status quo for all those affected by the UK’s decision to leave.

They have repeatedly promised to observe the principle of reciprocity, meaning that any rights they secure for EU nationals living in Britain will equally be applied to UK citizens on the continent. 

But that position is already being questioned after it emerged that eurocrats want to restrict the free movement rights of expats after Brexit to the EU member state they are in at the point of the UK’s exit. 

That would mean that whilst a French citizen living in Britain in March 2019 would be able to choose to set up home in the UK or any of the other 27 member states after Brexit, a Briton in France could only stay put or move back home. 

It would mean, in effect, British expats being deprived of a right of free movement they currently enjoy, whilst EU citizens would continue to have access to it indefinitely. 

On top of that, eurocrats also want to strip UK nationals on the continent of their rights to vote in elections, even though Britain has already said EU citizens here will retain that power. 

Mr Davis revealed the Government’s objection to the EU’s stance in a letter to the House of Lords EU Committee in which he updated peers on the “difficult, but ultimately productive” recent round of negotiations. 

He wrote: “The EU has confirmed that their offer only guarantees residence rights in the Member State in which a British national was resident at the point of our exit from the EU.

“It does not guarantee the holder of those residence rights any right to onward movement within the EU, for example to work or study in a neighbouring Member State. 

“We have questioned whether this is consistent with the principle of reciprocity, and also with the Commission’s desire to protect rights currently enjoyed under EU law. This will be the subject of further discussion in due course.” 

The Brexit secretary said the two sides had achieved “significant convergence on the key issues that really matter to citizens” and predicted they would “move swiftly towards an agreement”. 

But he also had a dig at Brussels by saying that the UK was prepared to go even further than eurocrats’ demands in some areas to make sure people’s rights are guaranteed, but that the EU had not been able to match its offer. 

Under Britain’s citizens’ rights offer all three million Europeans in the UK will be able to apply for “settled status” allowing them indefinite leave to remain in after Brexit. 

There were some concerns about a clause stating that those who leave the country for more than two years could have their residency revoked, but that would only apply to those who had no “strong ties” such as a family, property or job. 

In his letter, Mr Davis wrote: “We have also made clear that we are prepared to commit in the international agreement to going further in some respects than the requirements of the free movement directive. 

“For example as regards the position of those, such as students, who may have been absent for longer than two years at the point of our exit. The EU has not as yet been able to commit to matching those proposals.” 

Elsewhere in his letter the Brexit secretary also alluded to the stand-off between the UK and Brussels over the role of the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in policing any Brexit deal. 

He insisted UK judges must be involved in the process, writing: “We have made clear that we are entering into an international agreement with the EU27 which will create binding obligations on us and which we will implement in UK law.”

Mr Davis added: “Consequently EU citizens in the UK will have legal redress and be able to enforce their rights. But we recognise that these issues will require further analysis and discussion by both sides.” 

The next round of the divorce talks is set to begin on August 28, where both EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Mr Davis will be hoping to secure more concrete progress on the key issues of citizens’ rights, the Brexit bill and the Irish border. 


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