May’s Brexit WINS: Britain secures concessions from EU on citizens' rights and the bill

Posted on Dec 8 2017 - 8:56pm by admin

The text of an agreement released by the EU and UK shows how Brussels has made a number of compromises on the key divorce issues in order to forge a way forward. 

Theresa May flew out to the Belgian capital first thing this morning to seal the pact with Commission chief Jean-Claude Juncker and Council president Donald Tusk. 

It now needs to be approved by the 27 EU leaders at next week’s summit, after which Britain and the EU will be able to open formal talks on a transition and future partnership. 

The text, which Mrs May said was a “significant improvement” on previous drafts, contains a number of eye-catching concessions made by the European side. 

Under the terms of the withdrawal agreement UK authorities will be allowed to carry out “systematic” criminal checks on all EU citizens applying for permanent residency. 

Britain will also be allowed to charge those applying for its “settled status” a flat fee which does not exceed the cost of a British passport, which is £72.50. 

The EU Parliament, led by Brexit coordinator Guy Verhofstadt, had been insisting that such criminal checks were illegal and that the application process for residency must be free. 

Elsewhere, the UK has also secured an agreement that it will be able to carry out immigration checks under “national law” on all family members of EU nationals who do not fall under the scope of the deal. 

On Ireland, a line has been inserted into the text pledging that the British Government will “support fully Northern Ireland’s position as an integral part of the United Kingdom”.

The paragraph was added to appease the unionist DUP, which had scuppered an earlier version of the deal after being spooked that it could lead to the break up of the UK. 

On the financial settlement, which will come to around £50 billion, the UK won the right to link the schedule of payments to trade talks and continued access to EU programmes. 

The withdrawal agreement does not specify that Britain has to pay for the cost of relocating EU agencies – the Medicines Agency faces a bill of £521 million alone. 

And, against the wishes of some in Brussels, the UK will pay off the rest of the current budgetary plan, up until 2020, on current membership terms meaning it keeps the rebate. 

As part of the deal British organisations will be able to carry on participating in EU programmes sanctioned under the current MFF “for the entire lifetime of such projects”. 

And it will get its full share back of European Investment Bank (EIB) assets in 13 instalments from the beginning of 2019, reimbursing just under £3.5 billion to UK taxpayers. 

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