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Donald Tusk: Theresa May’s plans for EU citizens 'below expectation'

Agnes Chambre

4 min read

Donald Tusk has attacked Theresa May’s over her offer on EU citizens' rights, branding it “below expectation”. 

The EU Council President claimed the proposal, which the Prime Minister unveiled last night, would risk “worsening” the situation for citizens. 
The proposals would mean more than 3m EU nationals having the right to stay in the UK after Brexit, with Mrs May saying "settled status" would be offered to those who had been living in Britain for at least five years.

Meanwhile, EU nationals who have been in the UK for less than five years before the cut-off will have the chance to stay until they are eligible for settled status.

In return, she said "reciprocal" arrangements must be offered to the 900,000 British citizens living on the continent.

Speaking at a press conference in Brussels, Mr Tusk criticised the proposal, but said it would be for EU negotiators to analyse it properly. 
“Citizens rights are the number one rights for the EU 27 and we have made our position clear, we want to ensure the full rights for EU and UK citizens after Brexit. 
“My first impression is the UK’s offer is below expectation and risks worsening the situation of citizens but it will be for our negotiating team to analyze the offer line by line when we receive it on paper.”

He later added when asked to clarify his comments: "It’s obvious that the impact of Brexit in the citizens’ rights area is negative, and our role is to reduce this negative.
"If we compare that - it’s of course just the first impression; if we compare the current level of citizens’ rights to what we have heard from the British Prime Minister it’s obvious that this is about reducing citizen’s rights and the EU citizens in the UK. And our role during the negotiations is to reduce this risk".

The president of the European Commission Jean-Claude Juncker urged the Prime Minister to go further, saying her move was a “first step, but this step is not sufficient”.

When asked if any light had been shed on the kind of Brexit Mrs May is after, he said: “No.” 

Charles Michel, the Belgian prime minister, branded the proposal “particularly vague”.

He suggested leaders should be wary of the offer until the UK's position is laid out in full, adding “we don’t want a cat in the bag”.

“We want the rights of EU citizens to be permanently guaranteed,” he added.

Mrs May claimed at the same press conference her plans had been welcomed by Polish prime minister Beata Szydło.

“We had a very positive discussion about the offer the UK had made to EU citizens and indeed other leaders have reacted positively to me on the offer we have made"

She added: "There are some differences between that and the proposal the European Commission put out and the matter will now go into the negotiations."


Elsewhere in the press conference, Mrs May failed to fully deny an accusation that she blocked a move from David Cameron to unilaterally guarantee the rights of citizens living in the UK after Brexit.

George Osborne sensationally claimed in today's Evening Standard that Mr Cameron had proposed making the offer in the immediate aftermath of the EU referendum a year ago.

According to an editorial in the paper, every member of the Cabinet agreed with the former Prime Minister - except Mrs May, who was then still Home Secretary. Mr Cameron then dropped the plan.

Mrs May told reporters today: "That’s certainly not my recollection, I’ve been very clear all along that the issue of citizens’ rights should be addressed at an early stage of the negotiations.
“It will be, it’s one of the first issues that the formal negotiations will look at. As I say, I think we’ve made a fair and serious offer."

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