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European leaders unimpressed by Theresa May's offer on EU citizens

2 min read

European leaders have reacted with disappointment to Theresa May's latest offer on guaranteeing the rights of EU citizens in the UK after Brexit.

The Government published a 15-page document this afternoon fleshing out the offer the Prime Minister made at a Brussels summit last week.

Under the plan, EU nationals could apply for "settled status" in the UK if they have been living in Britain for at least five years.

At the time, EU Council president Donald Tusk said Mrs May's proposals were "below expectations".

In what appeared to be a major concession, the Prime Minister today revealed that the relatives of EU citizens granted so-called "settled status" in Britain could also gain the right to live and work in this country.

Mrs May said: "No families will be split up. Family dependents who join a qualifying EU citizen here before the UK’s exit will be able to apply for settled status after five years.

"And after the UK has left the European Union, EU citizens with settled status will be able to bring family members from overseas on the same terms as British nationals."

The document also raised the possibility of EU citizens needing to carry a type of ID card to show to their employers or if they want to access public services.

It said: “Obtaining documentation showing their settled status will enable EU citizens resident here to carry on living here lawfully. 

“Moreover it will help them to demonstrate to employers and other service providers their ongoing rights to be in the UK and to enjoy entitlements to benefits and public services.”

However, Mrs May has set herself on a collision course with the EU over her demand that those with settled status come under the jurisdiction of British courts, rather than the European Court of Justice.

Michel Barnier, the EU's lead negotiator in the Brexit talks, made his unhappiness clear on Twitter.

Guy Verhofstadt, the European Parliament's lead negotiator, said he was pleased the British document had "finally" been published.

But he added: "A number of limitations remain worrisome and will have to be carefully assessed."

Meanwhile, Theresa May has revealed that she is set to make her case on Brexit directly to MEPs in the European Parliament.

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