EU claims Britain will have to keep freedom of movement until at least 2021

Posted On: 
23rd January 2018

The UK will not be able to assume full control of its borders until the Brexit transition period has ended in 2021, a top EU official has said.

Britain is expected to keep freedom of movement throughout the transition period, Guy Verhofstadt has confirmed.

The European Parliament’s Brexit coordinator, Guy Verhofstadt, said the UK would be expected to honour freedom of movement during the transitional period.

This means EU citizens living and working in the UK have until March 2019 before they need to apply for special residency, should they want to stay after Britain quits the bloc.

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Speaking in the European Parliament, Mr Verhofstadt said changes to freedom of movement “would only apply after the Withdrawal Agreement and the transition period.”

His comments confirmed demands made in draft instructions to EU diplomats by chief negotiator Michael Barnier.

Negotiations on the terms of the transition period are expected to start next month. However, Mr Verhofstadt suggested it could last longer than the 18 months backed by the EU Commission.

“It is not a question of religion that it has to end on 31 December,” he said, adding that an extension of a few months would be allowed.

He was also adamant Britain would be forced to accept the jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice during the handover. 

“On content, there is no discussion,” Mr Verhofstadt told MEPs in the constitutional affairs committee, “it will be the whole acquis [the EU’s body of law] and nothing else.”

“The judicial oversight will continue to be the European Court of Justice,” he said.