Brexit breakthrough at last! Britain unveils new citizens rights plan to smash EU deadlock

BRITAIN today announced a new “streamlined” registration system EU nationals will use to apply for permanent residency after Brexit in a bid to break the divorce talks deadlock.


Ministers revealed a new technical note laying out details of how European citizens will be able to stay beyond March 2019 at the same time as the UK takes back control of its borders.The dossier, which will be discussed by UK and EU officials when David Davis travels to Brussels for the sixth round of Brexit negotiations on Thursday, is designed to assuage EU nerves about how its nationals will be treated.It represents a major charm offensive aimed at both EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and Parliament coordinator Guy Verhofstadt who had both expressed concern over Britain´s previous proposals.

Eurocrats had been worried by the potentially high cost in both money and time facing its citizens applying to stay in Britain after Brexit and had asked the UK side to modify its registration plan.

David Davis and Michel BarnierGETTY

David Davis will meet Michel Barnier for more Brexit talks this week

The UK is offering all European citizens in the country before Brexit day the opportunity to apply for “settled status” which will grant them permanent residency and enshrine their rights in British law.
EU officials have expressed fears about how that application process will work. Under previous British proposals, it was feared European citizens may have to provide information as detailed as evidence of every time they had ever left or re-entered the country.Suggestions that EU nationals may need to be fingerprinted, subjected to extensive immigration checks and forced to pay a high processing fee were also dismissed by Brussels as unacceptable.Today´s paper is a concerted effort to move the crucial citizens´rights chapter towards “sufficient progress” and comes at an opportune moment, with some EU officials fearing Britain may backslide on promises made in the negotiating room.

We will support everyone wishing to stay to gain settled status

David Davis

Unveiling it, Brexit secretary Mr Davis said: “We have been clear that safeguarding the rights of EU citizens is our top priority in negotiations. They make a huge contribution to our economy and society and we don´t want to see that change as a result of our decision to leave the EU.”We will support everyone wishing to stay to gain settled status through a new, straightforward, streamlined system.”The last negotiation round saw real progress in this area and I hope the document we have published today can facilitate the deal we need to guarantee the rights of UK citizens living in the EU27 and vice-versa.”

Under the proposals EU citizens in the UK will have ¨around two years¨ from Brexit day to apply for the new settled status online, although those who miss the deadline will be treated ¨proportionately¨ and not simply kicked out.

Previous suggestions that European nationals would have to provide extensive documentation about health insurance, work status and their travel history whilst living in Britain have also been scrapped to create a more stress-free process.

Officials also say there will be a “principle of evidential flexibility” – codeword for giving EU nationals the benefit of the doubt over their word – but there is no mention of a role for the ECJ in settling disputes which is a red line for Brussels.Home secretary Amber Rudd said: “We have been clear that EU citizens living in the UK make an enormous contribution to our country and we want them to stay.”Applying for settled status will be a streamlined, low cost, digital process and EU citizens are being consulted on its design to ensure it is user-friendly.

“We know that there is some anxiety among EU citizens about how the process of applying for settled status will work so I hope this document provides some further reassurance.”

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