Brexit: Juncker says UK rights offer ‘not sufficient’ – BBC News

Brexit: Juncker says UK rights offer ‘not sufficient’ – BBC News

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Theresa May

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EPA

Proposals from Theresa May to allow EU citizens to stay in the UK have not allayed the fears of those affected.

Mrs May unveiled plans at a Brussels summit on Thursday, which would grant a new “UK settled status” to EU migrants who had lived in the UK for five years.

But Europeans living here said they are still “panicked” and the proposals give “more questions than answers”.

Britons living in the EU are also worried about what it will mean for a reciprocal deal.

The settled status would give EU citizens the right to stay and access healthcare, education and other benefits, after the UK’s exit deadline – which is 30 March 2019.

The prime minister also promised to streamline the system, including doing away with an 85-page permanent residency application form.

However, no cut-off date has been specified from Downing Street and further details of the plans will not be released until Monday.

Bulgarian Maria Spirova, who has been living and working in the UK for five-and-a-half years, said she was still concerned about what the scheme would mean for her future, despite the announcement.

“I am panicked on the inside,” she told BBC Breakfast. “I arrived here before 2014… but [the proposals] open more questions than they answer.

Image caption

Maria Spirova worries if she will be able to stay living and working in the UK

“It was the British public that voted to leave, we didn’t vote, and we have had no control over our future as part of this country.

“With Mrs May saying there could be no deal, what happens to us?”

Anne-Laure Donskoy, founding member of the 3million – which aims to protect the rights of EU citizens living in the UK – said the offer was “neither fair, nor really serious”.

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “The announcement that Theresa May made really falls short of our expectations.

“It is like a teaser this statement, it gives you general direction of travel potentially, but there are things in the statement that need to be unpicked.”

On the other side of the Channel, British people are also concerned about what their futures hold.

‘We feel betrayed’

Glynis Whiting has been living in Brussels for 20 years and has taken the decision to adopt Belgian citizenship because of her concerns.

“People are worried, people are angry and we have had 12 months of this,” she told Today. “We didn’t get a vote and we feel betrayed and disappointed.”

John Brown has been living in Belgium for 21 years. He said: “It is when you get down to the nitty gritty, you uncover all the real issues, and I don’t think any generous offers will get down to the real details.”

But speaking at the start of the second day of the EU Summit, Mrs May said she wanted to reassure EU citizens in the UK that “no one would have to leave”, adding: “We won’t be seeing families split apart.”

She said there had been a “constructive start” to the talks, and that the UK had “set out the issues that we want to start talking about early in the negotiations” – including citizens’ rights.

Labour’s Keir Starmer, the shadow Brexit secretary, criticised Mrs May’s plans as “too little too late” and “falling far short” of the unilateral guarantee he says his party would offer. Liberal Democrat leader Tim Farron also said the proposals left too many unanswered questions.

However, German Chancellor Angela Merkel told reporters that the offer was “a good start”.

Both the UK and the rest of the EU say they want to come to an arrangement to secure the status of the 3.2 million EU citizens in the UK and the estimated 1.2 million Britons living in EU countries.

The European Union has said they should continue enjoying the same rights, enforceable by the European Court of Justice, but the UK has said rights should be upheld by British courts.

UK opposition parties had urged the government to make a unilateral guarantee to the EU migrants – but ministers have insisted a reciprocal deal is needed to ensure British expats are protected.

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