European Union Says Britain’s Offer “Below Expectations”

European Council President Donald TuskEuropean Council President Donald Tusk

At the conclusion of a European Council summit on Friday, council president, Donald Tusk, said at a press conference that British Prime Minister Theresa May’s proposal on the future of European Union citizens in Britain after Brexit was “below our expectations.”

During a working dinner in Brussels on Thursday night, May made what she called a “fair and serious offer” to her European counterparts regarding the future rights of EU citizens after Brexit, an issue European leaders have repeatedly made clear is their first priority in Brexit negotiations.

May said she was willing to agree on a “cutoff point” falling somewhere between when she formally triggered Article 50 procedures on March 29 of this year and the date of March 2019 as proposed by the European Commission.

EU citizens, who had already arrived in Britain before that date and during a “grace period” of up to two years, would qualify for a special “settled status”, granting them the same rights as British citizens and able to be kept for life.

During Friday’s press conference, however, Tusk was unimpressed by the British prime minister’s offer.

“My first impression is that the UK’s offer is below our expectations and that it risks worsening the situation of citizens,” Tusk said, “But it will be for our negotiating team to analyze the offer line by line, once we receive it on paper.”

Asked to expand, Tusk said it was obvious that Brexit would have a negative impact on citizens’ rights.

“If we compare the current level of citizens’ rights to what we have had from the British prime minister, it’s obvious that this is about reducing the citizens rights of EU citizens in the UK, and our role (as European leaders) in the negotiations is to reduce this risk,” he said.

Brexit occupied very little time during the European summit because the European Council had previously agreed that it would not be a forum for Brexit talks. However, post-summit questions from the press still focused on Brexit.


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