The Prime Minister has decided not to heed the call from the European Commission to allow EU citizens living in the United Kingdom the right to be joined by family members after Brexit, as part of a deal on citizens’ rights for the estimated 3.2 million EU nationals living in the UK.
In a 20-page document published for the first time on Monday, the government signalled it will keep rebuffing EU demands for the European Court of Justice to have a role in arbitrating disputes. “Theresa May is making a big show about is the least, (it) is just the minimum that you would have expected”, said Joao Felix, a Portuguese national living in London.
She said the UK’s approach is to have a new “light touch” online system to process applications that will give applicants the same “indefinite leave to remain” status as many non-European nationals who have also lived in Britain for five years.
Speaking to the House of Commons on Monday, May said the deal means anyone who has lived in the United Kingdom for five years continuously will be free to bring their family from Europe to live in Britain as long as they do so before Brexit.
Those who have lived here five years or more will be required to have papers to prove their “settled status“.
Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn dismissed May’s proposals as “too little, too late”. “More ambition, clarity and guarantees needed than in today’s United Kingdom position”, were his comments.
The Brexit Secretary said he expected the United Kingdom to have left the arrangements within the two-year timetable set out under the Article 50 process.
He said the European Union remained committed to securing the same level of protection for its citizens as they now enjoyed under European Union law.
EU President Donald Tusk said May’s offers were below expectation and risked making the situation for EU citizens in the United Kingdom worse.
Asked whether the United Kingdom would be out of the customs union in March 2019 – and therefore able to strike its own worldwide trade deals – he replied: “I would have thought so”.
– Qualifying EU citizens will have to apply for residence status.
“The UK will continue to export and up-rate the UK State Pension within the European Union; the UK will continue to aggregate periods of relevant insurance, work or residence within the European Union accrued before exit to help meet the entitlement conditions for UK contributory benefits and state pension, even where entitlement to these rights may be exercised after it exit”, the document states at one point.
The director-general of the Association of British Insurers (ABI), Huw Evans, will deliver a speech later today warning the United Kingdom government to avoid a cliff-edge in regulation and trading relationships when the United Kingdom exits the EU.
Labor said Britain should have made a unilateral guarantee to European Union citizens following the referendum a year ago which voted in favor of Brexit.
“After the United Kingdom has left the European Union, EU citizens with settled status will be able to bring family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals”, she said.
The European Union’s chief Brexit negotiator, Michel Barnier, said Brussels’ goal was for citizens to enjoy the same level of protection as under EU law, and May’s plans fell short.
Theresa May has also said people who apply for settled status will have to undergo criminal record checks and will be rejected if they are “serious or persistent criminals and those whom we consider a threat to the UK”.