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MEPs defend expat rights

MEPs are expected to vote on a new Brexit resolution calling for enhanced protection for Britons in the EU such as ongoing free movement rights.

The resolution, to be debated on October 2-5, is expected to go further than either the current UK or (Commission-led) EU negotiation stance.

Dutch MEP Sophie in ‘t Veld of the MEP citizen’s rights taskforce said she expects a ‘good resolution’ for expats.

She said it is likely to be in line with the position of parliament Brexit coordinator Guy Verhof-stadt who recently told the news channel CNBC that the parliament wants expats to “keep the rights they have now.” He added: “We think a Briton living in Germany should be able afterwards to go and live in another country in the EU without any problem. And that EU and UK citizens should have the right to vote in local elections as now.”

At present neither pledge is part of the EU negotiation stance and, while Britain backs these ideas, sources close to the negotiations told Con­nexion the EU conceding ‘ongoing’ free movement (to move to countries other than that of residence) depends on the UK allowing EU expats to move away from the UK to the EU then back again.

The EU Parliament liaises with the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier and must be kept ‘on side’ because it will have a veto over the final deal.

More negotiations were starting on going to press, a week late, possibly due to UK Prime Minister Theresa May’s Florence speech on Brexit.

Mrs May asked for a two-year transition period after the UK leaves, with little change. She also said “sig­nificant progress” had been made concerning EU nationals in the UK and Britons living in the EU.

However the campaign group British in Europe (BiE) questioned this and added that the speech had “largely ignored” expats.

Chairwoman Jane Golding asked the UK to give a lifelong guarantee of existing rights to EU27 citizens to “break the deadlock”. A rights agreement must be agreed rapidly and “ring-fenced”, she said.

The BiE group, and the3million campaign for EU27 expats in the UK are also calling on Britain to scrap its plan for a new ‘settled status’ that EU citizens would have to apply for after Brexit as opposed to a guarantee to maintain existing rights.

The groups made similar calls during a successful “mass lobby” in Westminster (see Brexit section of for more on this).

MPs are now expected to debate a referendum on the final exit deal, after a petition on this attracted more than 100,000 signatures (see

Meanwhile, a bid by lawyer Julien Fouchet to challenge the legal basis for the Brexit referendum has been  accepted by the General Court of the EU. The Council of the EU has met to discuss its response, which they must submit by the middle of this month. Mr Fouchet thinks the referendum was illegal in EU law because of the ban on long-term British expats taking part. He proposes that the EU should therefore not be negotiating based on it, and the referendum should be re-run.


Tougher security systems for third country nationals entering the EU’s Schengen Zone for visits of up to three months are on their way. This will affect British tourists and holiday home owners unless agreed otherwise in the Brexit talks.

The plans (see previous article:, aimed at tighter security after terror attacks in recent years, include the ‘EU Entry-Exit System’, which has now passed most legislative hurdles and is expected to be in place by 2020.

This system will record in a shared database details of all visitors entering and leaving, including fingerprints, facial image and details of their passport and other travel documents.

Another proposed scheme, Etias, is being debated by EU legislators and the commission with a view to a decision this year. It would require people to fill out an online form for permission to visit the Schengen Zone and pay a small fee. It would be valid for three years.

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