Expats fear rights ignored in rush for Brexit trade talks

Published:  24 Nov at 6 PM
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In a meet last week with Michel Barnier, British in Europe campaigners told of expats’ fears they will be ignored in the rush to start Brexit trade talks.

British lawyer and BIE chairperson Jane Golding told the EU’s chief negotiator the rights of expats must not be ‘swept under the carpet’ and ignored due to pressure from both sides to get on with trade talks. Golding told reporters she’d found Barnier to be in listening mode during the hour-long meeting. Following on from a two-hour meeting held last week with Barnier’s deputy and technical team as well as a meeting with Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt and a chance to speak to the EU parliament’s Constitutional Affairs Committee, the campaign group feels it’s been able to get its message to where it can be taken seriously.

In addition, Barnier has promised another meeting with the BIE after the EU leaders’ summit this December. The summit will report on and analyse the progress of negotiations to date, and is crucial to developing an agreement on the terms of the UK Brexit divorce. Golding is optimistic about the BIE’s relationship with Barnier, especially as he has promised the campaign group will be allowed input into the drafting of the exit treaty itself.

The summit will be held on December 13 -15, and is to decide whether enough progress has been made on phase one issues including the financial settlement, the Irish border and citizens’ rights. If the 27 EU member states agree progress has been made, the negotiations can move on to trade and the future of the relationship between the UK and EU. Also under discussion will be the proposed two-year transition period, during which the UK will continue as if it were still in the EU, but will not be at risk of a ‘cliff edge ‘ departure affecting flights, finance and trade.

According to EU sources, the term ‘sufficient progress’ isn’t being interpreted as finding a final solution, it’s simply an indication that profitable discussions can continue. However, BIE leaders feel their cause may well get lost in the major issues to be discussed in phase two of the negotiations. Golding believes both sides need to be seen as making progress, with the citizen rights issue easier to reconcile than the thorny problems concerning the divorce bill and the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic.
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