The European Union has been urged to back the rights of British expats in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Secretary of state for exiting the EU Steve Barclay has written to the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier in a bid to clarify the uncertainty UK expats are facing.
Although several countries have ratified expat rights agreed as part of the Brexit deal, what happens if Britain leaves the bloc without a deal is by no means certain.
Minister steps in
EU expat campaigners from pressure groups British in Europe and the3Million met Barclay to voice their concerns and he agreed to back their call for EU states to ‘ringfence’ their rights whatever the outcome of Britain leaving the EU in October.
Jane Golding, who co-chairs British in Europe said: “At times our fight to protect our citizens’ rights feels like one step forward and two steps back. However, today we are pleased to see that our recent meeting with Steve Barclay has resulted in a clearly worded letter to Michel Barnier reflecting fairly and fully the issues we raised.
“The minister is right that we are not asking for the withdrawal agreement to be re-opened. And a ringfenced withdrawal agreement is infinitely better than 28 unilateral national solutions that cannot resolve issues such as cross border social security contributions for working people, or health insurance for pensioners.”
Withdrawal agreement is not perfect
Golding made a point of reminding negotiators on both sides that they had promised to all expats in the UK and EU to carry on with their lives as they did before Brexit.
“The existing withdrawal agreement is far from perfect– for example it does not include the free movement that so many of our members rely on for work and to keep their family together. However, it is certainly far better than what would happen in the case of a no deal,” she said.
“As such, both sides have a special duty of care to agree to do the right thing as quickly as possible, so that the people most directly affected by Brexit, and without a say about it, can get on with their lives with certainty.”