5 representatives of the citizen organisations British in Europe and the 3million group have been invited on 28 March by chief EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier for informal discussions before Article 50 is triggered by the British Government.
Nicolas Hatton, founder of the3million, said:
“This raises the possibility of an early deal to secure our rights, which makes me really hopeful about the future.”
Jane Golding from British in Europe, the coalition of 12 citizens groups in the EU, said:
“We are pleased he wishes to engage with us, and will be asking him to seek a rapid solution based on maintaining the existing rights of 4 million people – including the 3 million EU citizens now resident in the UK – currently trapped in Brexit limbo.”
The meeting will take place in Brussels on 28th March and updates from the meeting will follow..
The independent website is carrying a story that German Chancellor Angela Merkel has blocked Theresa May’s proposal to guarantee EU citizens rights before Brexit negotiations begin in earnest next year. The story originally appeared on the Politico website and was apparently discussed during the two leaders meeting at the recent NATO summit.
It’s not entirely surprising, as Merkel has made it clear that there should be no negotiations before the UK finally declares its hand and submits its request to leave the European Union according to Article 50. The German government is frustrated that the UK has not clarified its thoughts on how it sees the future relationship with its major trading partners on the continent. Merkel rejected the proposal to cement “acquired rights” at this early stage – she’s probably worried that part of the UK’s negotiating tactics is to make as many side deals as possible in advance of the formal discussion.
Of course, for both UK citizens in other European countries and for EU citizens in the UK, it’s unsatisfactory. It would be have been useful to resolve their status at this early stage. It would remove, however, one negotiation card in the current Great Game being played out between London and Brussels.