“The Parliament must stay vigilant”

Is the Brexit deal good for European citizens in the UK – and for British citizens in the EU? An interview with Jane Golding from the association “British in Europe”

What do you think of the Brexit deal on citizens’ rights?

This deal is even worse than we expected. After 18 months of wrangling the UK and EU have sold 4.5 mn people down the river in a bargain that will have a severe impact on ordinary people’s ability to live their lives as we do now, unless outstanding issues are dealt with.

This is not what Mr. Barnier said. How do you get to this conclusion?

We are still waiting for some fondamental issues to be solved. They are hidden in a technical note published by the Commission (link here). For exemple, the current position is that there will be no free movement for British citizens in the EU as this issue is bumped into the second phase. This is a huge problem for many cross-border-workers, such as caterers, IT contractors and others. In countries like Luxemburg, Belgium, Germany and the Netherlands many jobs will be concerned. It is also unclear whether we will keep our automatic residency rights.

How about the EU citizens in the UK?

Their issues are not settled either. EU citiziens will have to apply for a new, lesser status. In practice, that means a lesser status that is conditional on application.

Nevertheless, the European Parliament is willing to endorse this deal…

Yes, the Brexit Steering Group in its press conference on Friday said it would recommend moving to the second phase of negociations. But I am glad to see that Mr. Verhofstadt made some reservations. In total, there are five outstanding issues, including free movement, although the life-long right to return to the UK for EU citizens in the UK is missing. So I hope they will be adressed as soon as possible.

Do you think there can still be changes in the second round?

Yes, I hope that the European Parliament will stay vigilant. This said, it will be much more difficult. If it took 18 months to produce something like this, then imagine what’s going to happen once citizens’ rights get buried under all the trade arguments about airline slots and fish carcasses.

Eine deutsche Fassung ist in der “taz” erschienen, der Text steht hier