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Brexit update

On 8 December, the European Commission [] agreed to recommend to the European Council to judge that "sufficient progress" had been made in the exit negotiations between the UK and the EU.

If the European Council considers (at its meeting on 14-15 December) that "sufficient progress" has been made, the European Commission says its negotiators and the UK Government will begin drafting a Withdrawal Agreement based on Article 50 of the Treaty on European Union on the basis of the Joint Report of 6 December, and the outcome of the negotiations on other withdrawal issues. The European Parliament is also due to debate "sufficient progress" in Strasbourg in the week beginning 11 December.

The Commission continues: "In line with the Guidelines of 29 April 2017, and once the Member States agree with the Commission's assessment, the Commission stands ready to begin work immediately on any possible transitional arrangements, and to start exploratory discussions on the future relationship between the European Union and the United Kingdom."

But where does that leave the citizenship issues which are so important to UK citizens living in France, or indeed in any other EU27 member state? The BCC, through its membership of British in Europe, has been part of the joint effort to ensure our voices are heard in areas such as the right to remain, recognition of professional qualifications and the maintenance of healthcare and other social security rights, including no-loss aggregation of pension entitlements earned by working in different EU countries. Some of these are addressed in the Joint Report, but not always satisfactorily, since both the UK and the EU assured us from the outset that our rights, our lives and our livelihoods would continue unchanged. This is not the case.

Our hope is therefore that the shortfalls in the citizens' rights negotiations will be addressed in Phase Two. British in Europe [] has already expressed its misgivings about the possibility of success this - see below and the Sky News piece here. [].

Reacting to the news that the UK and Commission have agreed ‘sufficient progress’ on the Brexit divorce issues, Jane Golding, Chair of British in Europe, said on 8 December:.

‘After 18 months of wrangling the UK and EU have sold 4.5 million people down the river in a grubby bargain that will have a severe impact on ordinary people’s ability to live their lives as we do now.

This is a double disaster for British people living in Europe. At the moment, not only is it unclear whether we keep our automatic residency rights, but it looks like we can also kiss goodbye to continuing free movement (from where we currently live to another EU country) beyond any agreed transition period – which so many of us who work across Europe rely on to support our families.

The UK wasted a precious opportunity to take up the EU’s comprehensive offer on citizens’ rights back in June. Instead, they decided to link the status of EU nationals in the UK to immigration, which resulted in the subsequent horse trading and significantly worse status that we all may face now.

Looking ahead to Phase Two of the talks – if it takes 18 months to produce something this bad then imagine what’s going to happen once citizens’ rights get buried under all the trade arguments about airline slots and fish carcasses.

We urge the European Parliament not to endorse this deal when they vote on it next week in Strasbourg.’


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